US may consider taking Rohingyas from Bangladesh: Momen

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen has said the United States may consider accepting a good number of forcibly-displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh for filling up a large portion of the new numbers set for 2021 and 2022, reports UNB.

Momen appreciated US president Joe Biden's recent announcement to enhance the admission of refugees to the US to 62,500 in 2021 and 125,000 in 2022.

He also expressed optimism that the US, as the largest humanitarian donor for the humanitarian operations for the forcibly displaced Rohingyas camped in Bangladesh, will continue to provide necessary assistance for Rohingyas, including those now settled in Bhasan Char.

US ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller met the foreign minister at the foreign affairs ministry on Thursday and discussed the issues.

The US ambassador informed that, during the upcoming launch of the annual Joint Response Plan (JRP) on 18 May in Geneva, the US is expected to pledge again for a large contribution to the humanitarian operation for Rohingyas.

The foreign minister Momen also assured the US side on Bangladesh's cooperation on the ongoing investigation into the genocide against Rohingyas in Myanmar, as reinitiated by the Biden administration.

The foreign minister urged the US ambassador to address the difficulties faced by a large number of Bangladeshi student visa applicants to obtain visa interview date in the US embassy in Dhaka, as many may lose admission and scholarship due to the delay.

The US ambassador informed that many interview slots had to be cancelled due to the lockdown.

He assured Momen of doing the best to make sure all the student visa applicants get interview slots on a priority basis once the lockdown is over so that they can join their academic sessions in US universities in time.

The main point of discussion was the process of acquiring AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the US to meet up the growing needs in Bangladesh to address the present shortfall.

Foreign minister Momen underscored that while the immediate need of Bangladesh is around 4 million doses of vaccine, the US government may consider providing 20 million AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh from its stock.

The US ambassador assured that his government is sincerely working on the proposal, though this is difficult to predict a timeframe at this moment.

He also informed that the United States is yet to provide any AstraZeneca vaccine to India, and hopefully Bangladesh will get the vaccine at the same time India gets.

The foreign minister emphasised an early decision.

He also welcomed US president Joe Biden's declaration to support Intellectual Property Waiver for vaccines in the WTO, and expressed optimism that this would enable developing countries, including Bangladesh, to produce US vaccines in the near future.

Momen and the US ambassador also discussed the ways and means of bolstering bilateral cooperation, especially the area of climate change adaptation and mitigation, including possible mutual engagement before and during the COP26 of the UNFCCC scheduled in November 2021 in Glasgow, as well as through mutual support in different elections in the UN system including in the UN Human Rights Council.