UN to raise pressure on Myanmar
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres yesterday said they will put more pressure on Myanmar to make it understand what it should do over the Rohingya issue.
"We are keeping up pressure on Myanmar... we need to put more pressure on Myanmar to make them understand what they should do over this issue," Guterres said when he along with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office.
Both the UN chief and the WB president assured Bangladesh of continued support in dealing with the Rohingya crisis and expressed their commitment to keep pressure on Myanmar to resolve the crisis.
They mentioned that the international community reiterated its solidarity with Bangladesh on the issue, and also praised its government for giving shelter to the Rohingyas.
The two are now in Bangladesh on a visit to assess the needs and the plight of more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees driven from their homes in Myanmar.
The UN chief noted with satisfaction that the WB has come forward to help Dhaka deal with the Rohingya issue.
Earlier, Kim met Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the Secretariat and discussed the refugee crisis.
In a video statement later, the WB president said, "We are extremely concerned about the situation of the Rohingyas." And the situation is “crying out” for response, reports UNB.
Kim said though the WB did little for the refugees in the past, the present UN chief's intervention encouraged it to get involved.
Terming the situation a humanitarian tragedy, he said they need to move on this to make sure that the issue is addressed in a peaceful way and the Rohingyas are repatriated to their homeland.
He said the WB supports everything the UN is doing to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Both Guterres and Kim will visit the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar today.
Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the PM's meeting with the two.
“Bangladesh gave shelter to 1.1 million Rohingyas only on humanitarian grounds as people of the country had a nearly identical experience when they were forced to take shelter in India during the Liberation War in 1971,” Karim quoted the premier as telling the two high-profile dignitaries, reports BSS.
The PM told them about the influx of Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh from 1977 until their latest exodus triggered by a ruthless military crackdown that began on August 25 last year.
She said the government is making preparations to relocate around 100,000 Rohingyas to an island where they will get better living condition and livelihood opportunities.
The PM also said Bangladeshis are experiencing adverse impacts as more than one million Rohingyas have taken shelter here.
"We have to look into their problems as well, and we are doing that," Karim quoted her as saying.
About dialogue between Bangladesh and Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation, she said both the countries signed agreements on the matter.
"But, they [Myanmar] are yet to take any action for their implementation," she added.
Guterres said Myanmar should be made to understand what their action could yield.
He feared the Rohingyas could be exposed to radicalisation, and stressed the need for educating them to check it.
The UN chief lauded the socioeconomic development of Bangladesh, and measures taken to combat terrorism and deal with climate change.
"Bangladesh is one of the most successful counties in disaster management," he observed.
He also appreciated Dhaka's efforts to establish peace across the globe.
The UN chief presented to the PM a photograph of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman giving his first speech at the UN General Assembly on September 25, 1974.
The WB president said development and humanitarian issues should be dealt with together, and assured the PM that the WB's cooperation with the Bangladesh government will continue.
He mentioned that Bangladesh is the second highest recipient of WB loans. "And this shows our faith in your leadership and we are inspired by your leadership."
Lauding Bangladesh's progress towards graduating from the category of Least Developed Country (LDC), Kim said he will request the WB Board so that it could get loans at a concessional rate.
Hasina said the dream of the father of the nation was to build a poverty- and hunger-free Bangladesh. "And we've made progress..."
She further said the GDP growth in the last fiscal year was 7.78 percent, and electricity production in the country reached 18,000 megawatt a day.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Adviser Towfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, among others, were present at the meeting.
The UN chief and the WB president later attended an event on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hosted by the Prime Minister's Office.
“Bangladesh cut poverty to half between 1991 and 2016 and in the process created more opportunities for its people. @WorldBank Group continues to support Bangladesh's progress on the #SDGs with record lending of more than #3.5 billion this year ...,” Kim tweeted after the programme.
Danish Ambassador in Dhaka Mikael H Winther, who was present at the programme, tweeted, "Big questions on SDG challenges addressed by World Bank President including on inequality, youth unemployment and education at conference today [yesterday]."
In the afternoon, the two distinguished guests visited Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi where they placed floral wreaths on the portrait of the father of the nation and paid tribute to him. They also signed the visitors' book.
The PM hosted a dinner in their honour at the Sonargaon Hotel.
The two are expected to visit Rohingyas at Konar Para and Kutupalong in Cox's Bazar this morning and hold a press conference there.
They will return to the capital in the evening and speak at a joint press briefing. Kim leaves Dhaka at 11:55pm today and Guterres at 1:40am tomorrow.