Food, Shelter to Rohingyas: $882m needed for 10 months
12:00 AM, November 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:35 AM, November 12, 2017

Food, Shelter to Rohingyas: $882m needed for 10 months

Estimates CPD, warns the govt int'l support may not continue for long

Centre for Policy Dialogue yesterday said an estimated $882 million or Tk 7,126 crore would be needed to provide food, shelter and other support to the Rohingyas until June next year.

It also said the expenditure for each Rohingya over the period would be Tk 59,388.

The independent think tank came up with the figures based on the estimate of the UN, which said $434 million would be needed for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh between September and February next year.

The humanitarian support currently provided by the international organisations would not continue for a long period. Hence, the burden would be on the government of Bangladesh, CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun said while presenting a paper on the implications of the Rohingya crisis for Bangladesh.

“Given the present budgetary framework for fiscal 2017-18, there is not much room for additional public spending,” she said.

Fahmida presented the paper at a dialogue titled "Addressing Rohingya Crisis: Options for Bangladesh" at Khazana Gardenia Banquet Hall in the capital yesterday. The programme was chaired by CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan and attended by diplomats, former ambassadors, international relations analysts and officials from UN agencies and other international organisations.

The CPD termed the Rohingya crisis a multi-dimensional problem for Bangladesh and suggested that the government continue "energetic diplomacy" particularly with the regional partners to solve it.

Discussants at the dialogue recommended taking both soft and hard approaches bilaterally and multilaterally so that the Myanmar authorities take back its nationals soon.

Some of them said the issue is likely to linger and affect Bangladesh in various ways.

They also warned about the risk of security, terrorism, spread of diseases, trafficking of women and children as well as illegal drug trade in the south-eastern region if the Rohingyas stayed there for a long period.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque said the government wants to see a peaceful solution to the crisis.

He said Myanmar is a close neighbour and Bangladesh has to have good relations with it. The government is currently focusing on signing a bilateral arrangement with the country for the return of the Rohingyas, he added.

 Haque said the government was not seeking humanitarian support from the international communities. "Rather, the government asks for political support to solve the Rohingya issue.

“This is a conflict between Myanmar and its own nationals. Bangladesh in no way created this environment. Bangladesh tries to become a responsible and responsive state. A state which responds to humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Fleeing persecution in Myanmar, over 613,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh since August 25.

The CPD said over a million Rohingyas now are staying in the south-eastern region of the country, creating economic, social and environmental challenges for Bangladesh.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow at the think tank, said the total number of refugees across the world is 6.5 crore and Bangladesh would be the fourth largest host country for refugees.

“We have shown generosity and it does not depend on resources, it depends on the heart,” he said.

William Moeller, political officer at the US Embassy in Dhaka, said solution lies with Myanmar and Bangladesh is just an innocent bystander to this crisis.

Ragnar Gudmundsson, country representative at International Monetary Fund, said a contingency plan would be very important for Bangladesh.

Anup Kumar Chakma, former Bangladesh ambassador to Myanmar, said Myanmar's relation with countries like China and the US has an impact on the Rohingya issue. He said China, US, India, and Thailand have interests and investments in Myanmar.

Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at University of Dhaka, recommended "becoming proactive" and sending high-level delegation to countries, particularly to China and India.

Referring to the ongoing atrocities against Rohingyas, Border Guard Bangladesh Director General Maj Gen Abul Hossain said the matter should be taken to the International Court of Justice.

Former ambassador Farooq Sobhan claimed that there was an attempt within Myanmar to permanently solve the Rohingya issue. He said One Belt One Road initiative of China would be seriously jeopardised if the issue was not resolved.

"There is also a potential threat of terrorism due to the crisis," he said.

Prof Sukamol Barua from Buddhist Federation said the Rohingya crisis is not a religious issue. He said local Buddhists were very cautious over the matter.

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