Dhaka, Sept 20 (UNB) - USAID Mission Director in Bangladesh Derrick Brown has been inspired by people’s life-changing stories and knowing how they have overcome barriers and improved living conditions with determination and hard work.
“It’s been truly inspiring to hear people’s life-changing stories. It’s been especially great to also know that the American people, through support provided by USAID, played a small role in their big achievements,” Brown said.
He made the remark in a statement after visiting USAID development programs in the Jashore-Khulna region from September 18-20, including visits to key agriculture, labor and food assistance programs.
The site visits were undertaken in collaboration with WordFish, WFP, Winrock International and World Vision Bangladesh among other implementing partners.
During his visit, Brown and his delegation met with government officials, community leaders and program participants. Program highlights in Khulna included a visit to NoboJatra, an integrated Food for Peace development program targeting victims of poverty, hunger and natural disasters; and a meeting with the management and labor leaders at a shrimp and fish processing plant to learn about the industry’s labor conditions.
Brown also toured a Digital Center supported by the USAID-UNDP-funded Access to Information (A2i) program, which makes information on government services available to local garment workers.
In addition, he spoke with beneficiaries at a shelter for survivors of cross-border trafficking.
In Jashore, Brown visited Janata Engineering, a small, but rapidly growing agricultural machinery manufacturer and dealer that produces and assembles farming equipment.
He also observed a USAID-funded aquaculture and nutrition activity that has provided technical support to 400,000 smallholder farmers; and he met with local vegetable farmers who have been taught new farming techniques and trained in health, personal safety and hygiene practices by the USAID Agricultural Value Chain project in partnership with Shwapno, a private retailer.
The US government, through USAID, has provided more than $7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971, according to USAID.
In 2017, USAID provided over $212 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programs that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resiliency to climate change.
Dhaka, Sept 20 (UNB) - Lawmakers from South East Asia on Thursday urged the UN to act on a devastating report on atrocities against Rohingya in Myanmar and do everything it can to pave the way for justice for victims.
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva is expected to vote on a resolution in next week establishing an independent mechanism to document these crimes for future prosecutions, said ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
The UN-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar released its full report on September 19, calling for the Myanmar military top brass to be investigated and prosecuted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
“The report by the Fact-Finding Mission is as heart wrenching as it is necessary. It adds to the mounting body of evidence that the Myanmar security forces have committed the gravest of crimes – including possible genocide – against Rohingya people,” APHR Chair Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament.
“The world must now take concrete action to ensure these atrocities are never repeated. The UN Human Rights Council can do just that by establishing an international accountability mechanism. We urge all countries – including Southeast Asian states – to lend support to a resolution to this effect.”
The FFM’s report documents in detail a catalogue of rights violations by the Myanmar security forces during its “clearance operation” in Rakhine State from 25 August 2017, including killings, burnings of villages and sexual violence on a “shocking scale”.
It also concludes that the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military, should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes in Shan and Kachin States.
The FFM recommended that either the HRC or the UN General Assembly should create an international, independent, impartial mechanism, tasked with gathering evidence with a view to support future criminal prosecutions.
ASEAN Parliamentarians have already urged members of the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court – the only way to guarantee a comprehensive investigation by the Court covering all crimes by the Tatmadaw across the whole of the country.
“With atrocity crimes unfolding in their backyard, ASEAN states simply no longer have the option to remain silent. Countries in the region must condemn Myanmar’s atrocities in a united voice, and push Members of the Security Council to refer the situation there to the ICC,” said Charles Santiago.
Dhaka, Sept 20 (UNB) - The government of Bangladesh on Thursday signed a $50 million grant financing agreement with the World Bank to help strengthen the government’s health care services, so they can respond to the health, nutrition, and family planning needs of the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar.
Of the $50 million financing, the World Bank will provide $41.67 million as a grant through the IDA18 Regional Sub-window for Refugees and Host Communities with an additional $8.33 million as a grant from the Government of Canada.
The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries.
This innovative World Bank financing instrument for refugees and host communities means that for every dollar contributed by Canada, five additional grant dollars will be unlocked for a total of $50 million in new financing, said the Washington-based global lending agency.
This additional financing to the existing Health Sector Support Project will help provide essential health and nutrition services to the Rohingya people, which will include maternal, neonatal, infant, child, and adolescent health, nutrition and psychosocial services, as well as reproductive health care.
“Nearly one million Rohingya live in congested camps, including the Kutupalong camp, the world’s largest refugee camp. They face risks of disease outbreaks and suffer from high rates of child malnutrition. Their health care needs are enormous,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.
“This grant financing will help the government plan and manage health, nutrition and population services for the Rohingya people while the existing project will continue to provide healthcare to the local population,” said the WB official.
This is the first in a series of projects financed by the World Bank to support Bangladesh in dealing with the Rohingya influx.
The financing will strengthen health services provided through the health centers within the camps, in addition to the Cox’s Bazar District Hospital, Upazilla health complexes and other selected government facilities in Ukhia and Teknaf, said the global lending agency.
The WB said this will also help the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to scale up and strengthen the existing facilities within and adjacent to the camps.
Through the Women Friendly Centers within the camps, the financing will support services for the victims of gender-based violence.
The agreement was signed by Kazi Shofiqul Azam and Qimiao Fan on behalf of the government and the World Bank, respectively, at the Economic Relations Division.
“Bangladesh has provided shelter to the Rohingya population who fled from violence in Myanmar. The majority of them are women and children,” said Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh.
“The government of Bangladesh is addressing the needs of the displaced population together with the host community. We welcome the support from the World Bank.”
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed nearly $29 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country.
Dhaka, Sept 20 (UNB) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will place fresh specific proposals at the 73rd UN General Assembly seeking a stronger role from the international community so that Myanmar acts promptly and takes Rohingyas back.
“She (PM) will place some specific proposals in continuation of her previous five-point proposal,” Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told a press conference at his ministry on Thursday.
He said the government wants to see safe, sustainable and dignified return of Rohingyas and is working in a peaceful manner. “The international community is beside us.”
The Foreign Minister said all the countries will not speak in the same language but they all agreed on their safe return to Myanmar recognising that the root cause lies in Myanmar.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque were present at the press conference.
During the 72nd UNGA session, Prime Minister Hasina placed a five-point specific proposal to ensure the sustainable return of all the Rohingyas now in Bangladesh to Myanmar which was appreciated by the international community.
She is scheduled to leave Dhaka on Friday and reach New York on Sunday.
After the Myanmar Army crackdown in Rakhine state that began on August 25 last year, over 700,000 displaced Rohingyas entered Bangladesh, while several hundred thousand more have been living in Cox’s Bazar for years.
Minister Ali said the overall pressure on Myanmar has been increased to find a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.
He said there will be a number of events at the 73rd UNGA through which Bangladesh will be able to describe the steps taken so far by Bangladesh and the challenges before the international community.
The Prime Minister will deliver her speech, as usual in Bangla, at the general debate of the UNGA on September 27, said Minister Ali.
She will also focus on establishing peace in the world, safe migration, rights of Palestinians, women empowerment, establishing Digital Bangladesh, climate change challenges and democratic continuity in the country apart from highlighting Bangladesh’s achievements in various areas, he said.
Bangladesh will also highlight the progress made so far, impressive economic growth and issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and challenges.
There will be an official delegation of around 50 members, including Minister Ali, to accompany the Prime Minister at the UNGA apart from a big business delegation who will attend at their own arrangements.
Countries like the US, the UK, Canada, France, Australia, OIC member states and other countries are also preparing to take up the issue seeking an early solution to the protracted problem, said a diplomatic source.
Bangladesh has urged the Member States of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to support Rohingya issue in their engagements during the forthcoming UN General Assembly.
The State Minister made the request when a 16-member delegation of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) visited Bangladesh recently.
The delegation, comprising of MPs from seven member states of the PUIC -- Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan and Turkey -- also visited the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.
Heads of state or government, members of their parties and other delegations, observers or individual members will attend the UNGA session.
The theme of the 73rd UNGA is ‘Making the United Nations relevant to all people: Global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies’.
Bangladesh will also highlight the progress made so far, impressive economic growth and issues related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate change in the UNGA.
The Prime Minister will attend a high-level meeting on ‘Global Call of Action on World Drug Problem’ on September 24 to be initiated by US President Donald Trump.
On the same day, she will attend another high-level meeting on ‘Global Compact on Refugees: A Model for Greater Solidarity and Copeerat6ion at the invitation of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Prime Minister will also attend a number of events, including Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, International Finance Facility for Education, Dialogue on Girls Education at the invitation of Canadian Prime Minister, Action for Peacekeeping, Cyber Security and International Cooperation, side event on Rihingya crisis and discussion on economic growth through women empowerment.
She will also attend a roundtable discussion of US Chamber of Commerce and an event of the World Economic Forum.
Sheikh Hasina will receive International Achievement Award from the Inter Press Service News Agency on September 27 for her role over Rohingya issue.
The high-level plenary meeting convened by the President of the General Assembly to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will be held on September 26.
The UN Secretary-General will convene a high-level meeting on financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on September 24.
The event will encourage high-level political impetus for financing the SDGs and inspire action by all the development partners.
The Secretary General will open the event and deliver a keynote address, followed by remarks by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, an opening panel comprising heads of state or government, and two subsequent panels featuring high-level representatives, leading investors, financial technology innovators and philanthropists, and other invited speakers.
The objectives of the event are: to launch the Secretary-General’s strategy for financing the 2030 Agenda; to take stock of efforts by different stakeholders to operationalise the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; and to build momentum around key actions and initiatives by national Governments, businesses and the international community that have high potential to accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.
The general debate of the 73rd session will be held from September 25 to October 1.
Cox's Bazar, Sept 20 (UNB) - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partner Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) have distributed over 10,000 family kits among poor families of the host community of the district.
The kit distributions were carried out in Moheshkali (3500 kits), Kutubdia (1,500 kits), and Chakaria (5,115 kits) on Thursday.
Local government officials were present at the handover ceremonies in each respective sub-district.
The distributions are among a good number of programmes being taken to assist some of the poorest local host communities that have generously hosted Rohingya refugees and have been impacted by the refugee influx, said UNHCR.
Altogether 30,000 households received the family kits, which include two floor mats, a bucket, tarpaulin, rope and wire.
Other UNHCR support to Bangladeshi host communities includes programmes to assist with livelihoods, the distribution of energy-efficient LPG cooking stoves, the rehabilitation of schools, improvements to roads and drainage, as well as the installation of solar lighting.