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Brac USA raises $5m for Rana Plaza survivors for its Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund

imagesBrac USA has raised more than $5 million for its newly launched Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund, including support from Walmart, Asda, Walmart Foundation, Children’s Place and Gap Foundation.

The North American independent affiliate of Brac has also announced a multi-year fundraising initiative to ensure progress of humanitarian aid and support for workers in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry, according to a statement.

The fresh initiative comes just ahead of the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse tragedy on April 24 that killed more than 1,100 people.

“These global industry leaders and foundations contributed to Brac USA’s fund based on Brac’s deep history and community roots in Bangladesh, and on Brac USA’s strong commitment to a long-term solution and its high standards in grant-making, monitoring and reporting,??? said Susan Davis, president and chief executive of Brac USA.

“The Rana Plaza tragedy was a wake-up call for the world that shocked our collective conscience,??? Davis added.

“Even eleven months after Rana Plaza, more support needs to be provided to victims and their families. Delays have taken place for a variety of reasons, but rather than looking back, we’re moving forward on common ground, and with a clear message: A better path is possible, and we can help create it,??? she said.

The Bangladesh fund will be granting its first major grant this week with a $2.2 million donation to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, in support of victims of the Rana Plaza disaster and their families coordinated through the Rana Plaza Arrangement.

With the International Labour Organisation serving as neutral chair, the single approach Rana Plaza Arrangement is overseen by a committee established in November 2013 by a multi-stakeholder coalition of government, employers, workers, retailers and civil society.

“The coordination committee has called for donations from any party, and they are very much needed to ensure fair treatment for the Rana Plaza victims who are struggling to rebuild their lives and those of their dependents and families,??? said Gilbert Houngbo, the ILO deputy director-general for partnerships and field operations.

“This coordinated arrangement is a key step on the road to establishing decent work and safe workplaces in the Bangladesh garment industry. We welcome Brac USA’s efforts in support of the arrangement and hope that its pro-active approach inspires others to donate funds too.???

Brac USA’s new fund will be directed to three specific program areas: support for the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund; continued support for Brac’s work to provide counselling and rehabilitation to garment workers; and a reserve that can be used to support a “social safety net??? for workers impacted by other tragedies such as the Tazreen factory fire in 2012, the statement said.

“Bangladesh has seen significant gains in living standards, halving poverty rates in the last 20 years, thanks largely to women’s empowerment. The garment industry has played a tremendous role in this,??? said Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of Brac.

“But these gains will mean little if we allow tragedies like Rana Plaza to continue. The words ‘Made in Bangladesh’ should be a mark of pride, not shame,??? he said.

Brac provided relief and medical assistance, psychosocial counselling for victims and livelihood support and training with support from Brac USA, the International Labour Organisation and others.

The support includes counselling and training in new livelihoods for those who survived Rana Plaza, Tazreen and similar disasters but cannot, or do not wish to, return to the garment industry.

Source: Daily Star

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