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4 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Dhaka needs more help for Rohingyas

Says WB president as he visits Kutupalong camp with UN chief
DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
Dhaka needs more help for Rohingyas

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim yesterday said Bangladesh needs more support from the world to help close to a million Rohingya refugees driven by violence from Myanmar as he concluded a two-day visit to the country with the United Nations secretary-general. President Kim, along with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, visited the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, the largest and most densely populated refugee settlement in the world.

 “I saw firsthand the sheer scale of the crisis. I spoke with women and men who have faced extreme hardships, and yet they stand resolute—waiting for a chance to return to their village,” the World Bank chief was quoted as saying by a press release issued by his organisation yesterday.

 “The Government of Bangladesh has done the world a great service by keeping its borders open and supporting the refugees. But much more needs to be done. With the continuing monsoon rains and forthcoming cyclones, risks of natural disasters and disease outbreaks are increasing,” he said.

The international community needs to step up support,” he added.

Kim and Guterres interacted with Rohingya women and men and visited the transit camp, healthcare centres, and women-friendly spaces. In Cox’s Bazar, the number of Rohingyas is more than twice the local population, which is putting pressure on infrastructure and services.

On Sunday, Kim met with the prime minister, finance minister, foreign minister and other senior government officials of Bangladesh.

While commending Bangladesh for its generosity in providing refuge for the Rohingya people, he emphasised the World Bank’s commitment to help the host community and the refugees.

“The World Bank will help Bangladesh sustain its impressive development progress while managing the dire situation created by this large influx. We have mobilised $480 million grant-based support, which will help build country capacity to deal with the crisis,” said Kim.

As he concluded the visit, he said, “Bangladesh has an inspiring development story: it has emerged as a global leader in reducing poverty and creating opportunities for all. The World Bank considers Bangladesh

an important partner in reducing global poverty. We are firm on our commitment to enhance support to help Bangladesh achieve its aspiration of becoming an upper-middle income country.”

World Bank support to Bangladesh has expanded: in the last five years, financing to the country has more than doubled. This year it reached a record high commitment of $3 billion.

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed more than $29 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country.

UNB adds: Recognising the progress made so far, ICRC President Peter Maurer yesterday laid emphasis on “responsible leadership” to resolve the Rohingya crisis and help Rohingyas go back to their homeland with all their rights.

“Today, there is recognition that there is a problem and this problem needs to be fixed,” he told reporters mentioning that he saw a positive recognition from Myanmar authorities during his meeting with them.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Bangladesh Head of Delegation Ikhtiyar Aslanov was also present at the conference held at its office in Banani yesterday.

While responding to a UNB question, Maurer said they are ready to engage in stabilisation of communities in Myanmar.

He, however, said though there are positive steps, they are certainly not at the point yet where they wanted to be with conditions conducive to safe return of Rohingyas.

“The ICRC will continue to play its part in responding to this humanitarian crisis in both Myanmar and Bangladesh,” said Maurer who travelled to both sides of the border - to the northern parts of Rakhine State where people had fled violence in huge numbers to the camps of Cox’s Bazar.

He said conditions to return will require not only humanitarian and mitigating activities, but also effective political steps towards ensuring freedom of movement; access to basic services; freedom to undertake economic activity and access to markets in Rakhine; and most importantly trust in security arrangements for returnees.

“In both countries I visited I was moved by the stories about the impacts of ICRC’s work for individuals and communities over the decades, from detention visits to healthcare to humanitarian negotiations and diplomacy,” Maurer said.

He said there has been no shortage of initiatives to solve the problem and both governments are making efforts and I am convinced of their goodwill.

The ICRC President met Myanmar President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Senior General Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services Min Aung Hlaing, as well as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He also met Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Tuesday and is scheduled to meet Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan in the afternoon.

“I cannot claim that life for those in Rakhine State is significantly better. In this remote, rarely-visited area, we drove through the areas where villages once stood. Little remains now, and the vegetation is rapidly reclaiming the land. In other parts, former schools and health centres stand empty,” he said.

The ICRC President said they have also seen the excellent recommendations from the Kofi Annan Commission, which they support. “Humanitarian organisations too are doing their best to alleviate the suffering. But so far, despite all the talking and all the efforts, too little has changed for the people there.”

“For humanitarian reasons alone, something has to change. Our collective best efforts must break this intractable situation and address its root causes. The ICRC is keen to play its part,” he said.

In Myanmar, the ICRC is doubling the distribution of food rations, to help communities during the monsoon season as many areas become inaccessible.

“These are lifesaving measures but they are not long-term solutions. People need sustainable answers and they need hope for the future,” he said.

The ICRC President said humanitarian assistance alone will not solve this problem. “A better future for the people here will need inclusive political solutions, environmentally sustainable economic investment and a strong commitment to international humanitarian law and human rights.”

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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