Muhith seeks WB help for Rohingyas

Shakhawat Hossain with Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:05, Oct 13,2017 | Updated: 00:30, Oct 13,2017

 
 

Bangladesh has sought financial assistance from the World Bank to deal with the Rohingya crisis, which conflicts with the government’s existing policy not to declare Rohingyas refugees. 
Finance minister AMA Muhith, now in Washington, sought the assistance during a meeting with top World Bank officials, including its vice-president and chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva, at its headquarter on Wednesday.
According to a massage received in Dhaka on Thursday, the World Bank agreed to give assistance in form of loan meant for refugees that experts said contradicted with the government policy to deal with the Rohingyas entering Bangladesh to flee violence in Myanmar.
As per the bank provisions, Bangladesh could receive assistance, half of which would be in the form of loan, if the country signed and ratified 1952 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol.
Bangladesh is yet to sign and ratify the convention and the protocol made to express formal commitments to maintain rights of refugees.
On September 10, foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque reiterated that the government had no intension to declare Rohingys refugees as it would complicate the efforts for ensuring their return to their homeland.
Bangladesh diplomats in New York and Washington said that the government would need to make a major policy shift on status of Rohingyas for accessing the World Bank loan meant for refugees.
The Bangladesh government and the people in general, population in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban in particular, extended all out supports to Rohingyas and were making sacrifices for them on humanitarian grounds, a senior diplomat said.
‘What is the justification of putting some extra-weights on our already heavy loan-burden,’ a diplomat said, as the Myanmar government would not pay the loan and Rohingyas were not in a position to pay for any services.
Over 5,36,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing violence in Rahkhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing, till Sunday beginning from August 25.
The new influx raised the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 9,54,000, in cluding 34,000 registered refugees, according to UN agencies’ estimate.
On Wednesday, the UN said that Myanmar’s ‘systematic’ crackdown on the Rohingya was aimed at permanently expelling the minority Muslim community from their home in Rakhine state. 
UNHCR and several rights bodies have long been demanding that the government should declared all Rohingyas ‘refugees’ for allowing them to establish their rights as ‘stateless’ persons.
Muhith told the World Bank officials that Rohingyas were arriving every day although the country was already affected by them.
Bangladesh that showed great generosity towards Rohingyas, the Muslim minority in Buddhist majority Myanmar, required a global humanitarian and development response, and support from the World Bank, he said.
The World Bank in a release on Wednesday said that it was ready to support Bangladesh to tackle Rohingyas crisis.
‘The value of the World Bank investment has yet to be decided but the programme of support could include expanding access to health, education, water, sanitation, and roads,’ said the release. 

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