Victims of displacement need durable protection

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury . Khulna

Rights-based durable protection mechanisms should be developed at national, regional and global levels to face increasing internal and cross-border human displacement, local and foreign experts and policymakers said at a South Asian regional consultation Friday.
‘We may need to find out what is within our capacity of adaptation, and also what is not. If forced “human mobility-displacement” is not adaptable, then we should think of ways in which we can uphold the displaced peoples’ right to survive,’ Cabinet secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said while inaugurating a South Asian regional consultation to face human displacement.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Nansen Initiative jointly hosted the discussion styled ‘Nansen Initiative Regional Consultation in South Asia’ in Khulna. It was the fifth and last of a series of regional consultation held in different parts of the Earth. Delegates from about 15 countries and about 20 local and international organisations have been participating in this consultation, set to end Sunday.
Speakers said population growth, unequal distribution of wealth, rapid urbanisation, violence, climate change and unequal investment in disaster risk responses were increasing the underlying risks of vulnerability to forced displacement, especially for the poorer section of the society.
One-third of the people displaced in different incidents, manmade or natural, around the world, were from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Justin Ginnetti, senior advisor of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, said.
In Bangladesh, about 1.5 million people ‘are at risk of disaster related displacement’ between 2015 and 2024, he said.
Professor Walter Kaelin, envoy of the chairmanship of The Nansen Initiative, suggested political response for country specific and regional solutions to human displacement. ‘Global solutions might not become useful for many countries and regions,’ he said.
Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus of the Brac University, stressed the need for identifying actual reasons of migration of people.
‘Nobody wants to migrate,’ he said, but at least one person in every household in Cyclone Aila affected Satkhira already moved out for mainly urban areas including the Dhaka city for lack of support for livelihood and unavailability of basic services including  shortage of drinking water supply.
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque stressed the need for taking the major reasons of displacement in consideration for shaping a comprehensive approach, instead of seeing issues from limited perspectives.
People make decisions to migrate or not to migrate based on their respective social, environmental, economic, demographic and political perspectives, he said.
Stina Ljungdell, country representative of the UNHCR, said rights-based protections at national, regional and global levels should be taken simultaneously for durable solutions for displacement.
‘People will continue to move probably with more frequency and intensity,’ she said, and ‘the international community must make up their mind for burden sharing’.
Sarat Dash, chief of mission of International Organisation for Migration, said all quarters should take proactive measures, engaging directly with the local vulnerable communities, instead of waiting ‘until the situation is dire’.

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