February 28, 2021

Give humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen

The Daily Star
Star Digital Report
February 26, 2021

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has requested the UN to provide humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas in Bhasan Char, where a housing facility has been developed for one lakh Rohingyas.

"The Foreign Minister explained the Secretary General of the measures taken by the Government in Bhasan char and requested the UN's support for humanitarian assistance there for the Rohingyas," said Bangladesh's Permanent Mission to the UN in New York in a statement today, referring to a virtual meeting between them.

Momen has been visiting the USA since February 22. He already spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken over phone, held meeting with US Congresswoman Grace Meng.

On Thursday, the foreign minister held a virtual meeting with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and discussed the issues related to Covid-19 vaccination, Rohingya crisis and climate change.

Guterres lauded Bangladesh's generosity in giving shelter to the Rohingyas and reiterated that, "Return of refugees to Myanmar is our common objective". Some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign in 2017, joining 300,000 other Rohingyas who had faced waves of persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state since 1980s.

Bangladesh government built a planned housing facility with Tk 3,100 in Bhasan Char that includes hospital, cyclone shelters, hospitals, school facilities, high flood protection embankment, while projects are undergoing to create livelihood options for the Rohingyas.

Starting from December last year until now, more than 10,000 Rohingyas were relocated to the housing facility in the island under Noakhali. Eventually, one lakh will be relocated to ease congestion in the camps of Cox's Bazar.

The UN has sought to send a technical team for assessment of the facility, but that has not been done yet. Bhasan Char has not yet been under the Joint Response Plan, a yearly budgeting for the Rohingyas, prepared by the UN and other international agencies.

During the virtual meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lauded Bangladesh's tremendous efforts in mitigating the health and socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Referring to Bangladesh's past successes in disaster management, he said in view of Bangladesh's ranking as a global leader in risk mitigation, he was not surprised to see such accomplishment.

They also agreed that Covid-19 vaccination should be treated as 'global public good'.

Foreign Minister Momen welcomed Secretary General's call to mobilize climate financing and told that as the current president of Climate Vulnerable Forum, Bangladesh would continue to work together with the UN to achieve climate ambition and build resilience in preparation for the COP 26 in Glasgow this year.

Stating that fighting climate change is the battle of his life, Guterres said he would be pursuing the donors to allocate 50 percent of proposed climate funds for adaptation strategies.

He termed Bangladesh's enormous adaptation efforts on the coastal region and managing rivers as remarkable efforts.

Expressing satisfaction that Bangladesh is going to graduate from LDC category, Foreign Minister requested the Secretary General to use his offices to convince development partners and international financial institutions to incentivise the graduating countries with new support mechanisms even after graduation.

Antonio Guterres observed that graduation should not be considered a technocratic issue measured only by GDP, instead a multidimensional vulnerability index may be used while considering this.

"Graduation should not be punished rather rewarded," he told Foreign Minister Momen.

The minister invited Guterres to participate the twin celebration of birth centenary of the father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence.

They also discussed UN peacekeeping, LDC issues and reelection bid of the Secretary-General.

Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN in New York, Ambassador Rabab Fatima was present during the meeting.

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