NGOs (non-government organisations) running Rohingya relief programmes in Cox's Bazar have urged the government to give approval to all pending and new relief projects within 24 hours.
The NGOs have not got any fresh project, cleared by the government authorities, over the past one month, alleged their leaders at a press briefing at Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
Local, national and international organisations have been implementing Rohingya relief projects since last August taking approval from the NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB), but suddenly in the second week of November the government gave instruction to acquire no objection security clearance from the Public Safety Department of the home affairs ministry, they added.
However, international NGOs have to collect such “no objection” certificate both from the foreign affairs, and home ministries, they said.
The NGO leaders also claimed that they had not got “no objection” clearance against their projects since mid-November.
If the projects are not cleared soon, all NGO relief works will be stopped and around three to four thousands local workers involved in relief activities will not get their salaries, they added. Meanwhile, Cox's Bazar based CSO-NGO Forum (CCNF) at a press conference at Jatiya Press Club demanded the reinstatement of legal one stop service of the NGO Bureau.
CCNF is a local platform consisting of local NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) which have been providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the displaced Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar.
CEO and Chairman of Programme for Helpless And Lagged Societies (PHALS) Abu Murshed Chowdhury said if the recent government instructions for security clearance continue, health services being provided by NGOs in Rohingya camps will be in jeopardy as the local organisations have to withdraw operation by the end of December.
ADAB Director AKM Jasim Uddin said there is no evidence that registered NGOs have been involved in spreading fundamentalist propaganda till now, while they have a good track record of promoting the four principles of the Liberation War, especially secularism. If NGOs are withdrawn, the entire operation will be monopolised by the UN agencies which are now being criticised for costly emergency operations.
For example, there are now around 1,000 foreign expatriates working in Cox's Bazar; if they spend $300 (their standard per diem) per day, it would cost a total of Tk 2.40 crore per day, the forum claimed.
Moderator of the event, Executive Director of COAST Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, also a co-chair of the CCNF, said there is evidence that donors are withdrawing their letters of intent of funding and do not want to place the fund due to such delay and complications.