Published on 12:00 AM, August 13, 2021

‘Repatriation is our main agenda’

JS body opposes WB proposal of integrating Rohingyas into Bangladesh

Reuters file photo

A parliamentary body yesterday strongly opposed the World Bank's reform proposals, including the inclusion of Rohingya refugees in the host country.

The parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs ministry has asked the ministry concerned to be vigilant in this regard, citing the proposal as an intention to allow Myanmar's displaced Rohingyas to settle permanently in Bangladesh.

The meeting was held in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.

Muhammad Faruk Khan, chief of the parliamentary body, said, "We have told the ministry that the World Bank wants to make permanent arrangements for the Rohingyas by making such proposals. All these proposals for the settlement of Rohingyas cannot be accepted. We have clearly opposed it. We have said very strongly that we should not fall into the trap of the World Bank."

"We have also told the foreign ministry that statement in this regard will be clear that we have given them temporary shelter. You [World Bank] should make arrangements for their return to Myanmar. We will not accept such proposals to construct buildings for them and giving them opportunities for work and to buy land," he added.

Faruk Khan, also a ruling Awami League MP, said they have told the foreign ministry that their first agenda while discussion with the World Bank will be how to send Rohingyas back to Myanmar.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen recently said the government had rejected the World Bank's proposal in which it called for giving refugees all kinds of legal rights, including birth and death registration, working, buying land, education, employment and engaging in business.

Meanwhile, a report issued by the foreign ministry said improving the living standards of Rohingyas would encourage them to settle in the country permanently.

The report, which was also placed in the parliamentary committee, said bypassing the issue of Rohingya repatriation, western countries and relevant UN agencies have long been interested in taking up long-term projects to improve the living standards of Rohingyas in the camps.

The international community is becoming more active in increasing the quality of life and facilities for the camps, providing Rohingyas with formal education, technical  training, job creation through social business and various development projects.

Such activities, especially the continuous improvement of the quality of life in the camps, could encourage the Rohingyas to settle permanently in Bangladesh and severely hamper the repatriation process, the foreign ministry said in its report.

In this regard, the prime minister has approved the proposal of the foreign ministry to take a policy decision to keep the living standards and facilities of the Rohingya camps at a reasonable and limited level in the interest of repatriation.

Among others, committee members Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen; State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam; and lawmakers Nurul Islam Nahid, Golam Farooq Khandaker Prince, Abdul Majid Khan and Habibe Millat took part in the meeting.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has clarified that the proposals made in its Refugee Policy Review Framework is a global document, not Bangladesh-specific, meant to assess the effectiveness of the refugee-related projects funded by the global lender. It also said it was not in a position to negotiate the policy issues.