The World Bank has finally agreed to provide Bangladesh a grant to meet the basic needs of around one million Rohingyas who fled their homeland Myanmar, a high government official said.
In October last year, when Bangladesh sought assistance, the WB had said it would provide a mix of soft loans and grant, but Bangladesh refused to take loans.
“The World Bank has agreed to provide Bangladesh the full fund as grant money at its spring meeting held in April in the US,” said Mahmuda Begum, additional secretary of the Economic Relations Division of the government.
As part of the development, a WB team is now visiting Bangladesh to discuss the issue with the government, she said.
The WB's Dhaka office told The Daily Star that they agreed to extend the grant as the case was “exceptional”.
“Bangladesh government and its people have shown enormous generosity in providing shelter to the displaced Rohingya population,” said Rajashree Paralkar, WB's operations manager for Bangladesh.
“We have agreed to allocate additional resources available on grant terms, on an exceptional basis, given the scale and impact of the influx.”
However, neither the government nor the WB could confirm the amount.
Earlier, Bangladesh sought the fund from the WB in October last year when Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the amount would be $400 to $500 million and it would be a grant. But the WB was saying such a big amount could not be given as a grant.
After a visit of a WB team in late October, the global lender informed Bangladesh that it might get a maximum of $400 million from the WB refugee window, one-sixth of which will be from regular soft loan allocation and the remaining five-sixth will come from the refugee window. Fifty percent of the amount will be grant and 50 percent loan.
“The visiting World Bank team is now working out to identify the scope and modality of a project to be carried out jointly with the government to explore areas where the money will be spent,” Paralkar added.
According to Mahmuda, as per the WB's conditions, the entire fund will have to be spent for Rohingyas only.
The WB has experience in dealing with this type of refugee crisis in Venezuela, Turkey and some other African countries.