Compensation fund for Bangladesh factory collapse victims reaches $40.7 million target

In this photograph taken on April 28, 2013, Bangladesh property tycoon Sohel Rana (centre) is presented at a press conference at the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) headquarters in Dhaka. -- PHOTO: AFP 
In this photograph taken on April 28, 2013, Bangladesh property tycoon Sohel Rana (centre) is presented at a press conference at the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) headquarters in Dhaka. -- PHOTO: AFP 
In this photograph taken on April 29, 2013, cranes operated by Bangladeshi Army personnel are pictured at the scene following the April 24 collapse of an eight-storey building in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka. -- PHOTO: AFP
In this photograph taken on April 29, 2013, cranes operated by Bangladeshi Army personnel are pictured at the scene following the April 24 collapse of an eight-storey building in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka. -- PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (AFP) - A fund set up to compensate the victims of Bangladesh's Rana Plaza factory collapse has finally reached its US$30 million (S$40.7 million) target, the United Nations' International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Monday, more than two years after the disaster left over 1,100 garment workers dead.

With all the funding now secured, the last families still awaiting a payout will receive their money "in the coming weeks", said the ILO, which chairs the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee.

The committee, which was established in 2013 and represents all industry stakeholders, had estimated it would need US$30 million to fully and fairly compensate the families of the over 1,100 garment workers who died and some 1,500 others who were injured in the country's worst-ever industrial accident.

By April 24, on the second anniversary of the disaster, the committee had raised $27 million and was able to pay compensation to 70 percent of the more than 2,800 claimants, the ILO said in a statement. "Further donations, including one significant sum pledged late last week mean that US$30 million has now been reached and all final payments can be made," it added.

The development was welcomed by ILO director-general Guy Ryder.

"This is a milestone but we still have important business to deal with," he was quoted as saying in the statement.

"We must now work together to ensure that accidents can be prevented in the future, and that a robust national employment injury insurance scheme is established so that victims of any future accidents will be swiftly and justly compensated and cared for."

Bangladeshi police last week charged 41 people including the owner of the Rana Plaza factory complex, Sohel Rana, with murder.

He was arrested on the western border with India as he tried to flee the country in the days after the April 24, 2013 disaster.

Rana became Bangladesh's public enemy number one after survivors recounted how thousands of them were forced to enter the compound at the start of the working day despite complaints about cracks appearing in the walls.

The disaster highlighted appalling safety problems in Bangladesh's US$25 billion garment industry, the world's second largest after China's.

A host of Western retailers had clothing made at Rana Plaza, including Italy's Benetton, Spain's Mango and the British low-cost chain Primark. All three were among a number of international brands that contributed to the compensation fund.