Foreign Minister Abdul Momen yesterday said the global leadership, especially South Asian partners, need to do more to ensure quick repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.
The foreign minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 15th Meeting of the Governing Council of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (Sacep) at a city hotel.
Bangladesh has given shelter to forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar on 6,800 acres of forest land in Cox’s Bazar.
“It’s in an extremely vulnerable location. Their presence is affecting our ecosystem,” Dr Momen said.
He said the voluntary return of Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine state with safety, security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled Rakhine state after being persecuted by their own country.
Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years but Myanmar, rather in its attempt to “mislead” the international community, claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh.
Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar failed to remove trust deficit among the Rohingyas and there was lack of conducive environment in Rakhine for their return.
On the ecosystem and biodiversity, Dr Momen said protection and restoration can help mitigate climate change and provide increased resilience in the face of manmade and natural disasters.
The minister added that Bangladesh, as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, has also become one of the most resilient countries.
“However, one metre rise in sea-level is likely to uproot nearly 30 million people of Bangladesh and climate vulnerability is costing nearly 1-3 percent of our annual GDP growth rate,” Dr Momen mentioned.
Despite being a developing country, Bangladesh spends more than one percent of its GDP in combating climate change.
“We’re pursuing a low-carbon development path with increasing emphasis on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation,” Momen said.
Bangladesh is “successfully” managing 6,00,000 hectares of Sundarbans Mangrove forest, a great carbon sink, he added.
Md Shahab Uddin, environment, forest and climate change minister; Prakash Keshav Javadekar, his Indian counterpart; Ahmed Mujthaba, minister of state for environment, Republic of Maldives; Habibun Nahar, Bangladesh’s deputy minister of environment, and Abas Basir, director general of Sacep, were also present.