Robert Chatterton Dickson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, visited the Mainamati war cemetery beside Cumilla-Sylhet highway in Burichang upazila here on Friday morning.
Dickson visited the cemetery at 10 am where 737 soldiers, who lost their lives during the World War II, were buried.
Dickson stayed there for an hour and left the cemetery after signing the visitors’ book.
Additional superintendent of police Azim-ul-Ahsan, DIO-1 Mahbub Morshed and police personnel were present there.
A number of 738 soldiers were buried at Mainamati War Cemetery in between 1941 and 1945 during the war. The cemetery holds the memories of 737 soldiers now as the relatives of a soldier took the remains from the cemetery to United States of America in 1962.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday said they are extending their support to 152 Bangladeshis, who returned home from Libya, to achieve sustainable reintegration, in full respect for human rights.
Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh Giorgi Gigauri said these migrants found themselves in "perilous conditions" in Libya and were desperate to get back home.
"We supported their voluntary return, ensuring their safety and dignity," he said.
IOM has supported 1475 Bangladeshi migrants to return home since 2015.
As one of the core activities of IOM, it provides vital assistance to thousands of migrants every year.
Building on experience and a worldwide network of offices and partners, IOM’s VHR programme strives to ensure that migrants in need are assisted.
IOM in close coordination with the government of Bangladesh supported 152 Bangladeshi nationals to return home from Libya.
A chartered flight carrying the returnees arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Thursday morning.
The Libya crisis started in 2011, which led to a civil war.
The ongoing crisis has put many Bangladeshi migrants at great risk, IOM said adding that they do not wish to risk their lives in such a perilous environment and most of them wish to return home.
In this backdrop, IOM, with the close coordination of Bangladesh government, has supported this group of Bangladeshi migrants to return home safely through the Voluntary Humanitarian Return and Reintegration (VHR) programme.
The programme provides logistical and financial support to migrants, who are unable or unwilling to remain in the host country and who volunteer to return to their countries of origin.
These 152 people decided to return willingly from Libya and IOM made sure of their "voluntary return" in a dignified manner.
The UN migration agency has also supported with the flight, logistics and other necessary actions to make the return to Bangladesh safe and smooth.
Upon arrival at the airport, returnee migrants received health facilities, psychosocial support, food and post-arrival information support from IOM.
Besides, every migrant has received 50 Euros to go to their home from the airport.
IOM has coordinated the support to connect them with their family members and return home safely.
Under the VHR programme, every returnee migrant will also get in-kind support with the amount of 1400 Euros to help them reintegrate into society.
Mentioning that Bangladesh is not getting the compensation it needs to meet the climate risks under the Paris Agreement, Transparency International of Bangladesh (TIB) on Thursday demanded adequate and transparent financing by industrialised countries responsible for climate change.
“As the Paris Agreement doesn’t have a legal agreement on the issue, the international financial institutions (WB, ADB and IMF), along with the United States, are creating a vicious cycle and withholding the withdrawal of funds,” said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
He came up with the remarks at a press conference arranged by TIB at the city’s Dhanmondi on the forthcoming 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) slated to be held in Madrid, Spain from December 3 to December 12.
According to TIB studies, Bangladesh has been financed with 85 million dollars so far over the last three years from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) although the country needs more than 2.5 billion dollars to tackle climate risks.
“Considering the compensation policy of the polluting countries, donations should be guaranteed instead of loan. Underdeveloped countries will have to collectively raise the demand for the smoother supply of necessary funds from the GCF and other international funds…Bangladesh will have to play a significant role [in this regard],” said Dr Iftekhar.
TIB denounced the proposed bond and insurance-based funding scheme terming it ‘inconsistent’ with the fundamentals of grant-based adaptation funding for the affected countries.
They warned that such plans will only help boost the profits of corporate houses.
“Collecting insurance premiums from the affected people and families will put greater strain on them and increase the financial burden on those at risk,” said M Zakir Hossain Khan, Senior Programme Manager, Climate Finance and Governance, TIB.
However, the TIB Executive Director called for approaching the proposed climate insurance scheme with caution. “The government must accept the scheme only after assessing and determining the positive factors.”
Dr Iftekhar said Bangladesh is deprived of an additional 0.5 percent GDP growth every year for financial losses caused by natural disasters that are actually the results of climate change.
He further mentioned that the government must step up efforts to reduce the number of coal-based energy plants. “But, Bangladesh plans to increase coal-based power plants to 30 that will emit about 11.5 croremetric tons of extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a result, carbon emission will endanger the population of the country.”
“More importantly,” Dr Iftekhar added, “The country will lose 11 percent of its surface area due to sea level rise.”
TIB also demanded a separate fund to tackle the losses and damages due to climate change which will have financed by the developed countries responsible most for the climate change.
The UN Refugee Agency on Thursday said it is extremely difficult to set a timeline when the conducive environment for the return of Rohingyas will be created.
The UNHCR called on the international community to continue its support to Bangladesh and the humanitarian response while, in parallel, working with the Myanmar government to support Myanmar to create the conditions conducive to sustainable return.
"It's extremely difficult to set a timeline (when the conducive environment for Rohingya return will be created). There're too many factors," UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T Clements told reporters at a media interaction in a city hotel in the evening.
Clements, who concluded a four-day visit to Bangladesh, praised continued generosity of Bangladesh, encouraged international solidarity for solutions.
She highlighted the importance of UNHCR and partner agencies continued work with refugees in Bangladesh to help them develop skills and capacities which will in the future support their return and reintegration into Myanmar.
While in Cox’s Bazar, Clements met local officials to discuss the ongoing operational response and opportunities to further aid Bangladeshi communities generously hosting refugees.
She also met groups of refugees, including women and youths, to discuss their hopes and aspirations for the future and ways UNHCR could further support them.
In Dhaka, Clements met senior officials from the Ministries for Foreign Affairs and Disaster Management and Relief, and the Prime Minister’s Office, thanking them for Bangladesh’s continued generosity.
Going into 2020, she highlighted UNHCR’s strong continued commitment to supporting Bangladesh’s leadership for the humanitarian response, the need to ensure the necessary operational space for all partners, as well as the UN’s readiness to continue to constructively engage with the government on Bhasan Char.
They also discussed the need for significant and parallel efforts in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and Clements pledged UNHCR’s continued efforts to support the government of Myanmar and other relevant actors to secure solutions for refugees and create conditions conducive for sustainable returns.
This visit, which follows her last in December 2017, allowed Clements to take stock of significant progress made and of challenges which remain in the Rohingya refugee response, including the impact on host communities.
Much progress was visible throughout the visit of both Nayapara and Kutupalong refugee settlements, including significant measures to mitigate the effects of the monsoon season, efforts of Rohingya community volunteers to respond to the needs of their own communities, and the near completion of UNHCR’s joint registration exercise with the government of Bangladesh, which has to date registered more than 800,000 people.
While visiting the Kutupalong registration centre, Clements said that “registration is an essential protection tool”. She added “it is a huge achievement, which will greatly contribute to ensuring access to protection and aid for the Rohingyas. For many, it is the first form of identification that they have had.”
Despite funding constraints, with US$ 617 million of the US$ 950 million needed for the overall joint response available, humanitarian partners have been able to meet many of the needs of the refugees and support local Bangladesh communities.
During her visit, Clements and Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner, Mohammad Kamal Hossain, inaugurated a Cash Distribution Programme for the local community in Teknaf.
UNHCR and its partner World Vision International are distributing over US $1.25 million to 17,000 local families in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas.
The programme complements existing social safety net schemes of the government of Bangladesh, providing additional assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities.
It complements other programmes benefitting local communities through a range of sectors, including investments to improve the local infrastructure and access to basic services.
“We’re very grateful for this support for the local community which will have a major impact on people’s lives”, said Hossain, at the inauguration ceremony.
“We must continue to work together with UNHCR and globally to ensure the safe return of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar”, he added.
While in the camps, Clements also met with members of the Rohingya community. In these encounters, refugees highlighted that conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State do not currently allow for returns in safety and dignity – consistent with the outcome of previous surveys of refugees’ return intentions.
She said it is not up to the government, nor up to UNHCR, but it is up to the people (Rohingya) to decide who will return to their place of origin.
"We'll work tirelessly on both sides of the border until sustainable solutions can be found to this crisis and all those affected can live safely, with dignity, and with a prosperous future ahead of them," said the UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner.
She said they are focused on the search for solution. "This is a key priority for UNHCR."
Director, Bureau of Asia and Pacific Indrika Ratwatte and UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh Steven Corliss also spoke at the press conference.
President of the Marshall Islands Hilda C Heine on Thursday phoned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and exchanged pleasantries.
Hilda Heine made the phone call to the Prime Minister at noon and exchanged greetings, said PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.
He said Hilda Heine wished continued peace, progress and prosperity of the people of Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister also wished peace, progress and prosperity of the people of the Marshall Islands, the press secretary said.