U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on May 17, 2013. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/05/209581.htm

Labor in Focus: Advancing Workplace Safety

The collapse of an eight-story factory building in Bangladesh that killed over 600 garment workers two weeks ago is among the worst manufacturing disasters in history and remains a tragic reminder of the human consequences of poor working conditions in which millions of workers labor every day.  The United States actively engages with the highest levels of the Government of Bangladesh, exporters and buyers on the issues of workers’ rights and safe working conditions, and we are heartened by the recent high-level International Labor Organization (ILO) Mission to Bangladesh, which highlighted important steps to improve worker rights. MORE

Support for Entrepreneurship and Women’s Empowerment Among U.S. Priorities in South and Central Asia

Afghan women gather during the opening ceremony of the Sahar Gul net cafe, the first internet cafe for women, opened in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 8, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Robert Blake serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

Rabia Mariam is a businesswoman who employs an all-women workforce to manufacture scarves and rugs from silk, cotton-silk blend, and wool in Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan. Working with the USAID IDEA-NEW program, she employs nearly 1,000 women — many of them widows. Many of these Afghan women raise silkworms at home and boil cocoons, and go to weaving centers to weave the scarves and other handicrafts. Rabia’s work is bringing economic opportunity and hope to Afghan women.

I had the privilege of meeting Rabia and learning about her work at the South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh last month. The event exemplifies several of our bureau’s highest priorities… more »

Resolving the Plight of Persecuted, Uprooted People Around the World

Afghan refugee children stand on their belonging loaded on a truck as they depart for Afghanistan at a UNHCR repatriation terminal near Quetta, Pakistan, Nov. 17, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

2012 was a challenging year for humanitarians trying to help displaced people around the world. The following summarizes some of the challenges addressed by the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) last year.

Inside Syria, 40,000 people have been killed and over two million are displaced. Over half a million people have fled to neighboring countries. The U.S. government (the State Department and USAID) is providing $210 million in humanitarian aid to the region, and this aid is reaching millions.

Last year, refugees fled violence and drought in Northern Mali and… more »

In Bhutan, Conserving the Natural Environment and Biodiversity

About the Author: Timothy Neely serves as Environment, Science, Technology and Health Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.

Do you know which country’s constitution promises that a minimum of 60 percent its land area will be maintained as forest for all time? Which country’s government pledges to protect, conserve, and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country; prevent pollution and ecological degradation; secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development; and ensure a safe and healthy environment? The answer is the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small Himalayan country located between China and India. Bhutan’s use of a “Gross National Happiness” index to measure progress, rather than GDP, is well-known, but fewer people know of the importance that Bhutan attaches to conserving its natural environment and biodiversity.

The Second Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation held in Thimphu, Bhutan… more »

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr. Travel to Ireland, Bangladesh, Bhutan

Media Note
Washington, DC
December 4, 2012

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr. is traveling to Ireland, Bangladesh, and Bhutan December 4 through December 13.

In Dublin, Assistant Secretary Blake will participate in meetings at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial. Assistant Secretary Blake will meet with OSCE interlocutors on human rights, elections, border security and anti-corruption, and hold bilateral meetings with the heads of delegations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

From Dublin, Assistant Secretary Blake will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, on December 8. Assistant Secretary Blake will address the Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium. The Symposium supports the New Silk Road vision of enhancing regional economic integration and advancing economic growth, peace, and stability, by empowering women through entrepreneurship and trade. Please click here for more information on the Symposium.

While in Dhaka, Assistant Secretary Blake will also meet with Bangladeshi officials, civil society leaders, and private sector representatives to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues on labor, development, governance, and trade. He will also record an episode of the television program “A Conversation with Bangladesh.”

On December 11 Assistant Secretary Blake will travel from Bangladesh to the Kingdom of Bhutan, where he will meet with officials from the Government of Bhutan to discuss issues of mutual interest, including our support for the advancement of women and girls in South Asia.

HIV Prevention in Bangladesh

Kajol, a former sex worker and now a HIV prevention counselor at USAID's Modhumita project, works to raise awareness among other commercial sex workers in Dhaka, November 14, 2012. [Photo Courtesy of Fhi360 Bangladesh/ Used by Permission]

About the Authors: Monjur Ahmed serves as Project Management Assistant for Communication in USAID/Bangladesh’s Office of Population, Health, Nutrition and Education, and Linda Quamar serves as Development Outreach and Communication Assistant in the USAID/Bangladesh Program Office.

Kajol, like many other young women from rural Bangladesh, came to Dhaka in search of employment. With the false promise of employment, she was abducted and forced into the sex trade. Later, Kajol came across one of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) HIV Prevention peer educators and was encouraged to leave her profession to pursue “a different life which would offer her acceptance and respect in the society.” Presently, Kajol works as a trainer for commercial sex workers (CSW) in USAID’s… more »

Youth TechCamp Bangladesh: Empowering Youth with 21st Century Tools for Change

Youth TechCamp Bangladesh participants learn how to use technology and social media to impact their communities for the better in Dhaka, Bangladesh, September 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The inaugural Youth TechCamp Bangladesh launched on September 16, and Dhaka has been buzzing ever since! Youth TechCamp Bangladesh was the latest in a series of interactive trainings around the world for alumni of State’s youth exchange programs. In Bangladesh, 30 alumni (ages 17-19) from our Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program participated, learning how to use technology and social media to impact their communities for the better.

Organized in collaboration with U.S. Embassy Dhaka and iEARN,… more »

Engaging the World Through Partnerships

Dawn McCall joins Ambassador Dan W. Mozena, Public Affairs Officer Lauren Lovelace, Akku Chowdhury, and M.K. Aaref at the entrance of the new Edward M. Kennedy Center for Public Service and the Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 14, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Dawn L. McCall serves as Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs.

On a recent trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, I visited Dhaka University to see a Banyan tree that Senator Edward Kennedy planted there in 1972 to commemorate Bangladesh’s independence. At the time of Senator Kennedy’s historic visit to Bangladesh, he was the most senior U.S. government official to ever visit the newly independent country. More than 10,000 students attended the tree planting ceremony. They, and many more people in Bangladesh and around the world, were inspired by Senator Kennedy, the democratic ideals he embodied, and his personal commitment to public service and volunteerism.

From this visit 40 years ago, a deep bond between Senator Kennedy and Bangladesh developed and endured. The American Center of U.S. Embassy Dhaka, in partnership with the Liberation War Museum, recently launched the Edward M. Kennedy Center for Public Service and the Arts (the EMK Center),… more »

Humanitarian Access for Rohingya in Bangladesh

Press Statement
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 7, 2012

The United States is deeply concerned by the Government of Bangladesh’s stated intent to shut down nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have been providing critical humanitarian aid to Rohingya residing in Bangladesh. We urge the Government of Bangladesh to permit these NGOs to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya, other vulnerable individuals fleeing the violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, and the local Bangladeshi population in the Bangladesh-Burma border region.

We are continuing to monitor ethnic and sectarian tensions in Burma’s Rakhine State and continue to call for restraint, an end to violence, and the upholding of principles of nondiscrimination, tolerance, and religious freedom. We have consistently urged the Burmese Government to reach a peaceful resolution as soon as possible and to bring those responsible for the violence to justice in a timely manner and in accordance with due process.