The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will bring the international community together on Thursday to address the Rohingya crisis.
The co-hosts will discuss the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas and other displaced people to their homes or to a place of their choosing, said the UNHCR.
At a virtual conference, they will urge countries to increase assistance for Rohingyas, host communities, and internally displaced people in Myanmar, more than three years since the latest phase of the crisis began in August 2017.
The UN has appealed for more than $1 billion in aid to meet the humanitarian needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh this year, but so far less than half has been contributed. This leaves a significant funding gap, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
There will be a telephonic press briefing with Richard Albright, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State; Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management in the European Commission; and Indrika Ratwatte, Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific on the same day.
The speakers will discuss the outcomes of the conference, including efforts to address the dire humanitarian crisis on the ground and increase assistance to respond to the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the region, as well as internally displaced persons in Myanmar, said the UN refugee agency.
After offering opening remarks, the speakers will take questions from participating journalists.
The government has decided not to hold any annual examinations for secondary school students this year, said Education Minister Dipu Moni.
“The students will be given assignment every week and a design has been prepared for it. The students will submit their assignments and the syllabus will be sent to all educational insitutions soon,” she said at a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
Besides, the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations will not be held in this year, she said.
“No examination will be held this year and the students will be promoted to the next class without facing any examination. A decision about certificates will be taken later," she said.
Talking about the evaluation process, the minister said: “The evaluation of their mark will be done with their previous results as the teachers have the idea about their students.”
Decision about enrolling class VIII students in Science, Humanities and Commerce sections will be taken later, she added.
The National Curriculum Board will prepare a syllabus for completing it within 30 working days for upgrading them in the next class, she said.
Referring to the increase of academic year, the Minister said, “We will keep it in mind and whether it is needed or not will decided later.”
Talking about the admission process next year, Dipu said no decision has taken yet in this regard.
Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel was also present at the event.
Earlier, the government decided to not to take any Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations due to coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister also announced that a technical committee will be formed comprised of officials from relevant sectors to decide the marking parameters from SSC and JSC examination results.
Educational institutions closure
All educational institutions were closed on March 16 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The closure was extended until Oct 31 as there has been no marked improvement in the situation.
Besides, there will be no Primary Education Completion (PEC) and its equivalent Ebtedayee examination for 2020 and the students will be promoted to the next class through class assessment instead.
Dipu Moni on Sept 30 said they are making plans considering various alternatives since experts have warned about the possible second wave of coronavirus during winter.
Also read: No HSC, equivalent exams this year
A fire broke out at the Chandni Chowk Market near Nilkhet area in the capital on Wednesday.
The fire broke out at 1:25pm on the ground floor of the market, said Lima Khanam, Duty Officer of fire service and civil defense control room.
Four units of firefighters have been working to douse the flame, she said.
No casualty was reported while the cause of the fire could not be known immediately.
The Covid-19 crisis has hit the garment sector in the Asia-Pacific region hard, with plummeting retail sales in key export markets affecting workers and enterprises throughout supply chains, according to new research from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The supply chain ripple effect -- How Covid-19 is affecting garment workers and factories in Asia and the Pacific -- assess the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on supply chains, factories and workers in 10 major garment-producing countries of the region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Sample data from May 2020 shows that only 3.9 percent of Bangladeshi suppliers have retained their entire workforce and 43 percent of RMG factories in Bangladesh are operating with less than temporarily or indefinitely.
Worker layoffs and dismissals have increased sharply, while factories that have reopened are often operating at reduced workforce.
“Thankfully, many RMG exporters have resumed operations over the past few months. At the same time, these resilient Bangladeshi enterprises and workforces are having to wrestle with the ongoing pandemic and ensuring safe conditions for all,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh.
The ILO has supported the development of a national Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) guideline on COVID-19 to mitigate infections in workplaces, he said.
Besides, Poutiainen said, several initiatives to protect income, health and employment of RMG workers and support for employers during the pandemic have also been developed.
The research highlights that major buying countries’ imports from garment-exporting countries in Asia dropped by up to 70 percent in the first half of 2020, due to collapsing consumer demand, government lockdown measures, and disruptions to raw material imports necessary for garment production.
As of September 2020, almost half of all jobs in garment supply chains were dependent on demand for garments from consumers living in countries with the most stringent lockdown measures in place, where retail sales have plummeted.
The AsiaPacific region employed an estimated 65 million garment sector workers in 2019, accounting for 75 percent of all garment workers worldwide.
Speaking about the findings, Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said: “This research highlights the massive impact Covid-9 has had on the garment industry at every level. It’s vital that governments, workers, employers and other industry stakeholders, work together to navigate these unprecedented conditions and help forge a more human-centred future for the industry.”
Throughout the surveyed countries, governments and industry associations have issued ILO supported guidance for minimizing the spread of Covid-19.
Although governments in the region have responded proactively to the crisis, the research reveals the closure of thousands of factories across the region either capacity.
“The typical garment worker in the region lost out on at least two to four weeks of work and saw only three in five of her co-workers called back to the factory when it reopened. Declines in earnings and delays in wage payments were also common among garment workers still employed in the second quarter of 2020,” said Christian Viegelahn, Labour Economist at the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
Besides, the research identifies how women, who make up the majority of the workers, have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, exacerbating existing inequalities in earnings, workload, occupational segregation, and distribution of unpaid care work.
Although the garment sector in Asia is generally marked by low levels of collective bargaining at both sector and factory level, the research notes that social dialogue appears to have helped strengthen crisis responses in countries where dialogue mechanisms are in place.
The brief calls for more inclusive and meaningful social dialogue at the national and sectoral level in countries across the region.
Other recommendations highlighted include the need for continued support for enterprises, as well as the extension of social protection for workers and especially women.
The recent global ‘Call to Action,’ an international multi-stakeholder initiative facilitated by ILO is also noted as a promising example of industry-wide, solidarity efforts to address the crisis.
The supply chain ripple effect: How Covid-19 is affecting garment workers and factories in Asia and the Pacific is based on extensive desk research and analysis of publicly available and enterprise-level data, together with interviews with leading stakeholders from across the sector in Asia.
It was led by Cornell University and an ILO team comprising the Regional Economic and Social Analysis Unit (RESA), Better Work and the ILO-Sida Decent Work in Garment Supply Chains Asia project.
Key Bangladesh RMG Data
According to data from UNCTAD, the total value of Bangladesh’s garment exports was US$33.6 billion in 2019.
RMG sector accounts for 90 percent share of exports and manufacturing value-added. Nearly one in nine women in employment are employed in the garment sector in Bangladesh.
Some 43 percent of suppliers in Bangladesh are operating with less than 50 percent of their pre-pandemic workforce.
About 230,749 workers among ILO Better Work Bangladesh’s (BWB) member factories were still not working as factories re-opened, representing 41 percent of total workers under the BWB programme.
ILO BWB data indicates that one in five workers received their wages later than the legally-mandated seven working days.
By June 2020, the total year-to-date imports from Bangladesh fell by as much as 29 percent, when compared to the same period in 2019.
Comprehensive data on the resulting decline in apparel orders by country is not available, but a Better Buying survey of 179 suppliers from 30 countries, including Bangladesh, conducted in May 2020 found that 64 percent of apparel factories received cancellations from customers.
A survey in May 2020 among 250 BWB factories 38 percent of factory respondents faced order reductions or were asked to hold shipments, 34 percent experienced order cancellations, and 4 percent could not produce garments due to a lack of raw material.
A Penn State Center for Global Workers.’ Rights survey of suppliers in Bangladesh in late March 2020 found that in factories with cancelled orders, 72 percent of buyers had not paid for raw materials and 91 percent had not paid for the production cost of already-produced goods (Anner, 2020).
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA): From March to April 2020, 348 factories closed down (BGMEA representatives, interview, July 22, 2020).
Surveys conducted by Better Work Bangladesh (March-May 2020) show 60 percent of suppliers closed for over 3 weeks with the largest proportion of suppliers (approximately 40 per cent) closing for 26-35 working days.
Bangladesh has seen a return in orders, particularly from buyers asking suppliers to execute pre-pandemic work orders. However, differences in the distribution of resumed orders being received among factories - with larger firms recovering more orders than smaller and medium-sized firms (RMG Bangladesh, 2020a).
Moreover, wages decreased, as revealed in phone surveys of 1,377 apparel workers in Bangladesh conducted by Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) and the South Asia Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM). The survey found that workers reported a lower median salary of Tk 5,522 (US$65) in May versus Tk 9,500 (US$113 USD) in April (Garment Worker Diaries, 2020).
Lower wages affect workers significantly, particularly with food security.
The MFO SANEM survey found that 77 per cent of respondents in June 2020 reported they ate less food than they should have because they did not have enough money for food.
The High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail petitions of former Awami League (AL) leaders Enamul Haque Enu and his brother Rupon Bhuiyan in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice Ahmed Sohel turned down the bail petitions after hearing a rule.
Advocate Syed Mamun Mahbub stood for the petitioner while Advocate Khurshid Alam represented the ACC and Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Deputy Attorney General AKM Amin Uddin Manik stood for the state.
Manik said they did not get any bail as the High Court scraped a rule over their bail.
On September 15, the High Court issued a rule asking the government to explain why the former Awami League leaders should not be granted bail in the case.
On June 15, Senior Special Judge AKM Imrul Kayesh rejected the bail petition of the two brothers in the case. Later, they moved the High Court.
On February 25, members of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) in a drive recovered Tk 26.55 crore in cash, FDRs worth Tk 5.15 crore and different foreign currencies from a house belonging to Enamul and his brother Rupon in the city’s Wari.
Earlier on January 13, they were arrested from a house in Subadda area of Keraniganj on the outskirts of the capital along with 12 mobile phone sets and Tk 40 lakh in cash.
Later, they were put on a four-day remand each in two money-laundering cases.
They remained absconding since law enforcers raided their house at Gendaria in September last year and seized 8,072 grams of gold and Tk 5.5 crore in cash as part of the anti-casino drive, also known as the AL’s ‘cleansing’ campaign.
According to police, Enamul Haque has been the director of Dhaka Wanderers Club and vice-president of the Awami League's Gandaria unit, while his brother was the joint general secretary for the same area.
Both were involved in the casino business at Wanderer’s Club, according to Rab.
On September 18 last year, a Rab-3 team conducted a drive at a casino inside Dhaka Wanderer’s Club where illegal drugs, fake currency, huge money and gambling materials were seized.