RIYADH: Saudi Arabia signed virtually on Thursday an agreement with the US to implement a multi-sector refugee support program in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
The agreement aims to rehabilitate housing with a total value of $2 million, and will be managed by the World Food Program (WFP).
The agreement was signed by Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and US Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa, in the presence of Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi ambassador to the US, and John Abizaid, US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
The program will target 87,165 people for urgent assistance, including Rohingya refugees and groups affected by natural disasters and conflicts in Ukhiya, Teknaf, Kutubdia and Moheskhali.
Dr. Al-Rabeeah praised the agreement. He said Saudi Arabia has stood by the Rohingya, in their areas of displacement and in the Kingdom, throughout history, and provided them with all the necessary services, care and facilities.
He added that as a result of the eradication and torture faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Kingdom provided urgent relief for disaster-stricken refugees. King Salman directed KSrelief to stand by the affected people and provide them with urgent aid, and the center sent a specialized team to Bangladesh to determine the state of the Rohingya refugees, meet their needs and provide them with emergency relief and humanitarian assistance. The center also implemented a number of diverse projects and programs for refugees in Cox’s Bazar and other areas.
Al-Rabeeah said the agreement comes within the framework of continuous Saudi support to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya people and to increase their standard of living. He thanked the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for its valuable assistance to affected people and countries around the globe.
John Barsa thanked KSrelief and the WFP for the partnership in Bangladesh and other countries. He said that for more than three years Rohingya refugees have suffered, and that through this agreement they will receive much-needed support.
He expressed his pride in the partnership, which will boost access to basic needs and shelter for the Rohinyga. More than 860,000 of the persecuted minority live in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
The Bangladeshi city is facing major problems, including natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic, and through this agreement USAID and KSrelief hope to meet the needs of residents.
Barsa said that for the past five years, through 300,000 employees and volunteers, KSrelief expanded its relief and humanitarian work, reaching 54 countries and donating more than $4 billion.
At the end of his speech, he expressed hope for the partnership and urged international organizations to support the cause.
Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud said that KSrelief plays a major role in providing relief to disaster zones and people in need around the world. The center has taken part in more than 1,300 humanitarian operations to date.
She added that the center, along with USAID, will contribute to WFP efforts to assist Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, and said the agreement is a testament to what the continuous Saudi partnership with the US is capable of achieving, in order to achieve peace, security and prosperity in the region and around the world.
The agreement aims to improve the health, safety and standards of living of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, through rehabilitating houses and local shelters and providing disaster protection, she added.
She said that over the last two decades, the Kingdom has donated more than $15 billion to refugees around the world, and that in the past month alone, the Kingdom took part in the UN donor conference for the Rohingya refugee cause. The Kingdom is also hosting more than 270,000 Rohingya refugees, providing them with free health care, educational services and employment opportunities, she added.
Through the agreement, many families in Bangladesh will soon receive shelter, the ambassador said, adding that she looks forward to continued cooperation between KSrelief and USAID.
Abizaid recalled the historic relationship between the Kingdom and the US, which began 75 years ago when King Abdul Aziz and Franklin D. Roosevelt first met. The two countries have worked together ever since to support peace and stability, Abizaid said.
He praised the joint cooperation between KSrelief and USAID, adding that the agreement will also include disaster management training for people in areas with extreme weather conditions.
The US ambassador hailed joint humanitarian work between the Kingdom and the US in a number of countries, including Yemen, where help is provided in a community torn apart by conflict. Both countries also met the needs of around 12 million people who are internally displaced in Syria.
KSrelief is at the forefront of education in Syria, and meets the needs of displaced children through the provision of supplies and services for more than 100,000 students, Abizaid said.
He expressed his country’s pride in cooperating with the Kingdom, and said the project is one part of a broad and lasting partnership between the Kingdom and the US.