Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa’s Remarks at KSrelief Signing Ceremony

Speeches Shim

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Good morning everyone. I would like to start by thanking both KSrelief and the UN World Food Programme for your partnership in Bangladesh and around the world.

More than three years since the last mass displacement of Rohingya fleeing violence in Burma, we are here today to reiterate our shared commitment to supporting Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi communities that generously host them.

On behalf of USAID, I’m proud to announce today our additional support, alongside KSrelief, for WFP’s project on cyclone shelter rehabilitation and strengthening disaster readiness. This project is one of the many ways that USAID is strengthening resilience for all communities in Cox’s Bazar.

With over 860,000 refugees and one of the world’s largest refugee camps, Cox’s Bazar is facing several compounding shocks, from extreme weather to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to this crisis, the United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya response. We’re working with many partners, including WFP, to provide urgently needed food, nutrition assistance, and safe drinking water. We’re providing psychosocial support, shelter, health, hygiene and sanitation services, and assistance to combat COVID-19. And in this region that’s prone to natural disasters, we support efforts to reduce the risk and impact of cyclones and other storms.

WFP’s project on cyclone shelter rehabilitation and disaster risk reduction is helping host communities in Cox’s Bazar to better prepare for and respond to major natural disasters. The project will continue to rehabilitate shelters that house refugees and host communities when storms hit, and it will train community leaders in disaster preparedness and response. Furthermore, the WFP project will create paid opportunities for people working to build and repair the shelters.

A core pillar of the U.S. Government’s Rohingya response has been the rehabilitation of cyclone shelters and the strengthening of disaster readiness in host communities. I couldn’t be more thrilled that KSrelief is joining us to continue this important work.

I would also like to acknowledge our important partnership with KSrelief as it continues to broaden its humanitarian efforts around the globe. In just five years, KSrelief has expanded into an organization of more than 300 staff with a sophisticated volunteer program. KSrelief responds to some of the most complex humanitarian disasters in more than 50 countries, and has provided more than $4 billion in humanitarian aid across every sector.

USAID has been a friend and partner since the beginning of this journey. We are proud to see KSrelief joining us as a leading humanitarian donor, committed to providing aid based on need to the world’s most vulnerable.

Our joint support for WFP’s project will have lasting impacts on the lives of vulnerable communities in Cox’s Bazar.

But at the same time, the UN’s Bangladesh humanitarian response appeal remains drastically underfunded. We hope that the unique partnership between USAID and KSrelief will bring more attention to the unmet needs of Bangladeshi host communities.

Just as our two organizations will continue to work together to meet the needs of vulnerable populations in Bangladesh and around the world, we encourage other donors—new and old—to increase their humanitarian support.

We also urge other donors to broaden their approaches to provide humanitarian assistance in innovative ways, advance solutions that are locally driven, and mitigate the impacts of future disasters.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you all today. We look forward to our continued collaboration.