Switzerland has offered 12mn Swiss francs ($12.8mn) of humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh who fled last year'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 $8mn 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 crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar army launched a 'clearing operation' against suspected insurgents last August.
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 United Nations and the United States condemned as ethnic cleansing.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Head-on collision of Bangladesh trains kills 16, injures 40
Cyclone death toll rises to 24 in Bangladesh, India
Eight dead, 36 missing after cyclone lashes Bangladesh
14 dead as Cyclone Bulbul smashes into India, Bangladesh coasts
Bangladesh evacuates 100,000 as Cyclone Bulbul approaches
Nobel laureate Yunus must surrender after arrest warrant, court rules
Bangladesh sentences 16 to death for killing teenager in harassment case
Rohingya refugees agree move to Bangladesh island
Bangladesh border forces kill Indian guard in rare clash