Dhaka, Aug 9 (UNB) - More than 500,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar were jointly registered by the Bangladesh authorities and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency as of Wednesday.
For most of these Rohingyas, it is the first time they have a proof of their identity, a secure identity card.
The biometric, fraud-proof cards are being issued jointly by Bangladeshi
authorities and UNHCR to all verified refugees over the age of 12.
This comprehensive registration –being simultaneously carried out in all refugee
settlements in Cox’s Bazar – is meant to ensure the accuracy of data on refugees in Bangladesh, giving national authorities and humanitarian partners a better
understanding of the population and their needs, UNHCR said on Thursday.
Accurate data will help agencies in their programme planning and be able to target assistance where it is needed most, particularly for people with specific needs, such as women and children taking care of their families and people with disabilities.
Last week, using the biometric data collected during this registration exercise, UNHCR launched the Global Distribution Tool (GDT) in the first of the refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar.
Through verification of fingerprints or iris scans, this tool speeds up
distributions, is fraud proof, and can be used by partners to ensure that there is no overlap in assistance, and to ensure that nobody is left out.
It continues to be rolled out in more settlements in the coming weeks.
The new registration cards indicate that Myanmar is the country of origin, a critical element in establishing and safeguarding the right of Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, if and when they decide the time is right for them to do so.
An estimated 900,000 Rohingya refugees live in crowded settlements in Cox’s Bazar, with over 740,000 thought to have fled from Myanmar since August 2017.
The registration exercise, currently under way, began in June 2018.
On average, some 5,000 refugees are being registered daily at seven different sites within the settlements.
More than 550 local staff have been recruited to work on the exercise with the goal of completing the registration process during the last quarter of 2019.
UNHCR’s Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) captures biometric data, including fingerprints and iris scans, which secure each refugee’s unique identity as well as other important information such as family links.
Both UNHCR and the Bangladeshi authorities meet regularly with the refugee
community, including leaders such elected community representatives, imams, elders and teachers, to explain the benefits of registration and respond to questions and concerns. Outreach teams composed of refugee volunteers also go into the community to explain the registration process and encourage people to register.
Dhaka, Aug 8 (UNB) - International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Bangladesh government and the partners will invest US$54.8 million to improve infrastructure and living standards in coastal chars.
The investment will provide the means for a three-year extension of the successful Char Development and Settlement Project – Phase IV.
IFAD President Gilbert F Houngbo and Additional Secretary and Wing Chief of the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance Nahid Rashid signed an agreement on Thursday, according to a message received from Rome.
Over 342,000 people in southeast Bangladesh living on coastal chars created by silt deposits will benefit from new financing for the project to reduce poverty and hunger and develop rural livelihoods.
People living on chars are often hardest hit by climate change effects like sea-level rise as they often live in poorly constructed housing and on low-lying land that is vulnerable to extreme weather.
The project will be financed by IFAD (concessional loan of $20.6 million), the Netherlands (grant of Euro 5 million - approximately $5.7 million), the government of Bangladesh ($24.7 million), NGO contributions ($3.7 million) and the contributions of beneficiaries themselves ($0.1 million).
Though Bangladesh has graduated to lower middle-income status, more than 24 percent of the population – or some 40 million people - lives below the poverty line.
With two thirds of its territory less than five metres above sea level, Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate change.
During the financing period, more than 57,000 poor small and marginal farmer households living on the chars of the Meghna estuary in Bhola, Chattogram and Noakhali districts will directly benefit from the project.
Over 90 percent of them are particularly poor and disadvantaged, including landless and marginalised farmers and women. The aim of the project is to increase farm incomes and food production leading to higher living standards and food security.
"By stabilising chars, constructing climate-resilient infrastructure, providing legal land titles to poor women and men, and investing in productive livelihoods, this transformative project will substantially reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth at scale," said Omer Zafar, IFAD's Country Director for Bangladesh.
Since 1979, IFAD has supported 34 programmes and projects in Bangladesh for a total amount of $3.2 billion, of which $811 million has been financed by IFAD and the remainder by domestic and international sources.
These projects have directly benefitted more than 11.3 million rural households.
Dhaka, Aug 8 (UNB) – Bangladesh and India on Thursday agreed to conduct a joint study on Ganges Barrage project and formed a technical committee to finalise the terms of reference (ToR) and constitute a larger panel to do the study to assess its impact on the environment and livelihood.
Both sides also agreed to work on preparing a framework or interim water-sharing agreements on seven rivers -- Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla, Feni and Dudhkumar including Teesta – and hoped to see some progress by September 30.
The issues were discussed at a secretary-level meeting held at state guesthouse Meghna here. Indian Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry Secretary Upendra Prasad Singh and his Bangladesh counterpart Kabir Bin Anwar led their respective delegations.
“We’ve decided to have a joint study actually….there’re two parts - finalisation of ToR and composition of that committee,” Upendra Singh told reporters at a joint briefing.
The two sides will decide how much time it will take to do the study. “Right now we’re not in a position to say by what date the study would be completed,” said the Indian water resources secretary.
“We want to make a good start,” Bangladesh water resources secretary Anwar said adding that the issues related to barrage construction and its design will not come for discussions right now because they want to conduct the study first.
Asked whether the much-awaited Teesta water-sharing deal will be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming India visit, both the secretaries said it is difficult to say at this stage as the date of the visit is not finalised yet.
Both the countries also discussed Delta Plan issues as the Bangladesh team explained it to its Indian counterpart.
Upendra Singh said resuming secretary-level talks after a gap of eight years is the most important achievement of the meeting.
Terming water a top most agenda of India, he said more than 80 percent of rainfall both the countries get in just three-four months of monsoon. “We’ve to manage water for the whole year. It’s a big challenge actually.”
Giving much importance to water conservation, the Indian water resources secretary said the two countries have so far been basically stressing supply side management. “This is high time to start working on demand side management.”
Upendra Singh said both the countries agreed to update data on the rivers and remove the inconsistencies, if any.
The Indian official hoped that they would be able to update the data to the extent possible and remove those inconstancies.
On Ganges barrage project, Upendra Singh said they have no problem as far as the utilisation of water by constructing a barrage at whichever suitable place it is constructed. “India has absolutely no issue but two things we would like to do.”
Firstly, he said, how to maximise the benefits out of it for both the countries though major benefits would go to Bangladesh.
Secondly, Upendra Singh added, they would like to ensure that there is no adverse impact or minimise such impact as any intervention which they make on a river has implications.
He said two people from each side will sit together and decide the composition of a larger committee. “We may have to have engineers, hydrology experts, environmentalists….”
Anwar expressed satisfaction over the resumption of talks and hoped to see a minister-level Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting soon.
The two countries also discussed the problems of pollution in trans-boundary rivers and other issues of mutual interest.
At the conclusion of the meeting, both sides signed the Joint Record of Discussions.
Later, the Indian Water Resource Secretary called on State Minister of Water Resources Zaheed Farooque, MP and Deputy Minister of Water Resources AKM Enamul Hoque Shameem.
He extended invitations from Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of Jal Shakti of India to the Bangladesh ministers to visit India.
The Bangladesh ministers thanked the Indian side for the invitations and agreed to undertake the visit at a mutually convenient date.
Dhaka, Aug 8 (UNB) - Bangladesh and the United States have discussed concerns with traffickers exploiting legal recruitment fees to trap migrant workers in debt-based coercion.
Officials of the two countries also discussed the need to identify internal forced labour and sex trafficking, increase accountability for traffickers, and provide victims support services.
US Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons John Cotton Richmond had the discussion with Bangladesh government officials and partners during August 3-6, said the US Embassy on Thursday.
They discussed ways to combat trafficking in persons and encourage measurable progress in implementing the recommendations in the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller joined Ambassador Richmond for meetings in Dhaka with government officials from the Foreign Affairs, Law, Home, Social Welfare and Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment ministries.
Ambassadors Miller and Richmond applauded the passage of the 2018-2022 National Action Plan and emphasised the importance of prosecution, protection and prevention in combating human trafficking.
In Cox’s Bazar, Ambassadors Miller and Richmond reviewed with the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner vulnerabilities to trafficking specific to the Rohingya population, steps the government of Bangladesh can take to limit these vulnerabilities, and best practices for handling these trafficking cases.
They also met the International Organization for Migration and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees protection teams to expand on steps the government can take to limit vulnerabilities to human trafficking for the Rohingya population and more comprehensively address related human-trafficking cases.
The delegation also met trafficking victims at the USAID-funded Young Power in Social Action TIP Shelter and heard about the reintegration services the shelter provides to survivors.
They had lunch with a group of law students where they discussed the importance of effective prosecution in trafficking in persons cases; the differences between smuggling and human trafficking, whether internal or external; and the importance of the annual TIP Report and implications of Bangladesh’s third consecutive Tier 2 Watch List ranking.
Ambassadors Miller and Richmond engaged international partners and the diplomatic community, including other chiefs of mission, at events throughout the visit on the importance of combating human trafficking.
Dhaka, Aug 8 (UNB) - Deputy Chief of Mission at Japanese Embassy Takeshi Ito on Thursday delivered a special lecture titled “Japan’s Foreign Policy and Japan-Bangladesh Relations” at the University of Chittagong.
It provided an overview of Japan’s diplomatic activities, focusing especially upon the context of Japan’s foreign policy in Asian region as well as present and future course of the bilateral relations between Japan and Bangladesh, according to Japanese Embassy in Dhaka.
CU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shireen Akhter said Japan is a long-standing friend of Bangladesh since its independence.
“We also have many faculty members who have studied in Japan with Japanese scholarships. I hope this special lecture will be the beginning of further cooperation between University of Chittagong and Japan,” she said.
Teachers and around 80 students from Faculty of Social Science of the university attended the event jointly organised by the Embassy of Japan and Centre for Asian Studies, University of Chittagong.