Switzerland has offered 12 million Swiss francs (12.8 million dollars) of humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims being sheltered in Bangladesh, who fled 2017’s violent military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.
Swiss President Alain Berset, on a four-day official visit to Bangladesh, made the announcement on Monday after a meeting with Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, in Dhaka.
The pledge is in addition to 8 million dollars Switzerland announced in October as an emergency humanitarian response to one of the largest refugee crises in the world that unfolded between Myanmar and Bangladesh in August.
Berset, who is also scheduled to travel to the refugee camps on Tuesday, underscored the need that refugees’ return to Myanmar be voluntary.
Bangladesh and Myanmar reached an agreement for Rohingya repatriation in November.
“It’ll be important that all returns are voluntary and safe, and carried out in dignity,” the Swiss president said in a statement after the meeting.
State-run Bangladeshi news agency Sangbad Sangstha reported that the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina called on the international community to keep pressure on Myanmar for sustainable return of the refugees with safety and dignity to their homes.
An estimated 688,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar army launched a ‘clearing operation’ against suspected Muslim insurgents blamed for carrying out attacks on security posts in northern Rakhine state on Aug. 25.
The refugees have been living in squalid, makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar, a south-eastern Bangladeshi district bordering Myanmar, since they fled the military clampdown, which the UN and the U.S. condemned as ethnic cleansing.