Switzerland has laid emphasis on preparedness to avoid disaster in Rohingya camps and protect vulnerable groups during the impending cyclone and rainy season.
‘Protecting those in need is the absolute priority. I am also worried about the impending cyclone and rainy season,’ Swiss president Alain Berset told UNB in an interview on Wednesday hours before wrapping up his four-day official visit to Bangladesh.
He said the needs in the camps are still enormous as he saw during his visit to Kutupalong camp. ‘I am especially concerned by the risks faced by the most vulnerable groups.’
The Swiss president called on all humanitarian and development actors present in Bangladesh to extend their programmes to refugees and host communities and to coordinate their activities closely with the government of Bangladesh.
Responding to a question, he said the agreement on repatriation between Bangladesh and Myanmar is a positive step towards solving the current crisis. ‘Switzerland underlines the need for any return of refugees to Myanmar to be voluntary, safe and dignified,’
The Swiss president commended the government and people of Bangladesh for the humanitarian assistance and protection they have provided to those fleeing violence in Myanmar.
‘In order to address this crisis, we have increased our humanitarian commitment to Bangladesh by an additional 12 million Swiss francs after having committed 8 million francs in 2017,’ he said adding that five experts from their Humanitarian Aid Unit are also assisting UN agencies on the ground.
The Swiss president said he had two main objectives - to establish closer relations between Bangladesh and Switzerland and to express solidarity with Bangladesh at a time when it is severely affected by the crisis in Myanmar.
‘In Cox’s Bazar, I was able to announce the increase in our humanitarian commitment to Bangladesh,’ he said.
On its supports and engagement on Rohingya issue, he said, ‘We will continue to remain engaged in the international platforms.’
The Swiss president called for the full implementation of the report of the Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan to protect Rohingyas and ensure their safe return to Myanmar.
He said a refugee crisis of this scale had put Bangladesh and the international community under enormous pressure to provide shelter and the most urgent services to more than 688000 people.
‘Switzerland is working closely with Bangladesh, UN agencies and other development partners in order to respond to this crisis,’ the Swiss president told reporters during his visit to Kutupalang camp on Tuesday.
President Berset extended his appreciation for the enormous efforts being undertaken by Bangladesh government to welcome and host the communities from Myanmar.
Placing emphasis on voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to their places of origin, he expressed his concern over the outbreak of diseases for the younger generation and the situation of the women, children who need increased protection.
Earlier, the Swiss president went to the Sadar Hospital to officially handover the Swiss contributions, including hospital beds and medical equipment support to the hospital management.
He highlighted the important role played by the doctors and the staff of this hospital in providing much needed medical treatment to patients from the host community as well as the Rohingya arrivals.
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