Dhaka, June 19 (UNB) – Tunisia has allowed the 75 migrants, including 64 from Bangladesh, to disembark after they were left stranded for three weeks in the Mediterranean.
"Our migrants have been disembarked from the ship and shifted to the IOM shelter in Tunis city. They’re waiting to be repatriated," ASM Ashraful Islam, labour counsellor of Bangladesh Embassy to Libya, told UNB on Wednesday.
A rescue boat carrying around 75 migrants, 64 of whom from Bangladesh, remained stuck off Tunisia coast for three weeks after authorities refused to let them disembark.
At least 65 other migrants drowned last month as their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tunisian coast after they had left Libya to reach Europe.
Dhaka, June 19 (UNB) - Bangladesh has achieved the fastest growth in the Asia-Pacific economies comprised of 45 countries, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In the outgoing fiscal year of 2018-19, the AD said, the country attained 7.9 percent growth which was fastest expansion since 1974.
The bank predicted that the growth will be 8 percent in the FY2019 and FY2020, terming it a new record.
“Bangladesh will continue to be the fastest in the Asia-Pacific,” the bank said in its Asian Development Outlook (ADO).
ADB Country Director for its Bangladesh resident mission Manmohan Parkash handed over the ADO to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Sangsad Bhaban office on Wednesday.
The ADO, the annual publication of the ADB, evaluates and forecasts economic performance of the 45 Asian and Pacific countries.
It said the growth will be moderate across most of developing Asia -- 5.7 percent in 2019 and 5.6 percent in 2020 from 6.2 percent in 2017 and 5.9 percent in 2018.
South Asia will see buck trend of slowing growth in Asia-- 6.8 percent in 2019 and 6.9 percent in 2020.
The ADO said the key attributors of this growth are strong leadership, good governance, stable government and continued political calm, sound macroeconomic policy and right development priorities.
The drivers of the growth have been identified as higher public investment, stronger consumption demand, revival in exports, improved power supply and higher growth in private sector credit.
The ADO pointed out that Bangladesh has favourable trade prospects despite a weaker global growth while exports and remittances are likely to increase further.
It also mentioned that strong public investment due to continued policy environment and expeditious implementation of large infrastructure projects and higher tax collection with expanded tax base will move Bangladesh economy further.
It said Bangladesh’s banking system reforms will attract higher private investment which will support the growth.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is gradually advancing the economy in a well-planned manner. “We’ve done our analysis before formulating the budget this year also,” she said.
Briefing reporters, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said, the Prime Minister mentioned that when Awami league was in the opposition, her party had also taken various types of economic programmes for the sake of the country.
“Our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had a vision for developing the country in totality and reducing the gap between the rich and poor and urban and rural areas. We’re working towards that direction,” the Prime Minister said.
She said the government is setting up 100 economic zones in the country where investors from across the globe can set up their industries.
Manmohan Parkash highly appreciated the government’s economic plan under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, saying all of its development programmes are people-centric.
Principal Secretary M Nojibur Rahman and Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder were present at the meeting.
Dhaka, June 19 (UNB) - With the objective of creating an environment of mutual respect, Uber, the world’s largest on-demand ride-sharing company, has updated its community guidelines, reminding riders of the behavior expected of anyone using the platform.
The updated community guidelines ensure and encourage shared accountability on the platform, and will see a handful of riders who, after several notifications, fall below a minimum average rating, lose access to the Uber app, says a media release on Wednesday.
This will encourage shared accountability since drivers have long been expected to meet a minimum rating threshold.
Commenting on this development, Uber Bangladesh’s chief ZulquarQuazi Islam said they all belong to communities that teach them the importance of treating everyone with respect.
“With the same thought in mind, we have updated Uber’s Community Guidelines which extend the same behavioral standards to riders that Uber has for its driver partners. Even though a vast majority of riders will not be affected by this update, it reminds a select few what behavior is expected of them while using the app."
Zulqua rQuazi said they want every Uber experience to be a great one. From new safety features, to new policies, we continue putting safety at the heart of everything we do. “Uber currently allows both drivers and passengers to rate each other and share feedback in the Uber app after each ride.”
Dhaka, June 19 (UNB) - ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Progressive Voice on Wednesday said the government of Myanmar must ensure that the human rights of the Rohingya community are protected and respected.
The organizations said safe conditions should be in place in Rakhine State before any Rohingyas are repatriated from Bangladesh.
The organizations made the call as Southeast Asian leaders are preparing to meet in Bangkok, Thailand for the 34th ASEAN Summit from June 20-23.
Earlier this month, a leaked copy of a preliminary needs assessment in Rakhine State carried out by an ASEAN body failed to acknowledge Myanmar military atrocities and ongoing human rights abuses against the Rohingya.
“ASEAN needs to stop turning a blind eye to Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya, and cease lending legitimacy to the repatriation process,” said Eva Sundari, Indonesian MP and APHR Board Member.
Sundari said they all know the Rohingya population in Bangladesh and elsewhere will not be returning home voluntarily until the situation on the ground in Rakhine State dramatically alters.
“A huge political shift is needed for things to start moving in the right direction. Not one thing that the Rohingya themselves have identified as prerequisites for their return, and which has been echoed by rights groups and other experts, has been taken on board in any serious way by the Myanmar authorities.”
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh after the Myanmar military launched a vicious “clearance operation” in August 2017, killing thousands of people and burning villages on the ground.
An UN-mandated fact-finding mission in September 2018 called for the Myanmar military top brass to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
On June 7, a copy of the “ASEAN Preliminary Needs Assessment for Repatriation in Rakhine State” report by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) and their Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) was leaked to the media.
The draft report ignores the root causes of why hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were forced to flee their homes, including the atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces and their proxies as well as the institutionalized discrimination imposed by Myanmar authorities against the minority in Rakhine State for decades. Furthermore, the draft report fails to mention the word “Rohingya”, instead calling the community “Muslims”.
Khin Ohmar, Chair of Progressive Voice Advisory Board said unless concrete steps towards international accountability for the genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are taken, ongoing impunity will only embolden the Myanmar military to commit more such atrocities.
“And any returned refugees will be vulnerable to the same violence that caused them to flee in the first place; this will be like sending them back to the killing fields to be re-victimized.”
Clashes between the Myanmar security forces and the Arakan Army ethnic armed organization have displaced at least 30,000 people since the beginning of the year, further underlining the precariousness of the situation in Rakhine State.
As the ASEAN report on the refugee repatriation process is expected to be officially released to the public in the coming weeks, APHR, FORUM-ASIA and Progressive Voice call on ASEAN to ensure that the bloc does not become complicit in the forced or premature repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
ASEAN must also take meaningful steps toward the promotion and protection of the rights of the Rohingya community, including through acknowledging their identity, restoring their full citizenship, and through ensuring their participation in all decisions concerning them.
John Samuel, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA said ASEAN has so far remained shamefully silent in the face of the serious human rights violations taking place in one of its Member States.
“With the second anniversary of the Myanmar military’s latest ‘clearance operation’ approaching, continued inaction by ASEAN will send a dangerous signal that the bloc is indifferent to the plight of the Rohingya and that human rights violations can be carried out with impunity.”
Dhaka, June 19 (UNB) - Refugees originating from Myanmar represented the fourth largest population group by country of origin and most Rohingyas from Myanmar were hosted by Bangladesh (906,600) at the end of the year 2018, says a global report on Wednesday.
However, according to government data, Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas and most of them came since August 25, 2017.
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018 and this is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has seen in its almost 70years.
By the end of 2018, this Rohingya population stood at 1.1 million, about the same as in 2017, according to data from UNHCR’s annual ‘Global Trends’ report released on Wednesday.
Most refugees from Myanmar were hosted by Bangladesh (906,600) at the end of the year, a slight decline from the end of 2017 (932,200) due to improvements in registration methods.
Other countries with sizable populations of refugees from Myanmar were Malaysia (114,200), Thailand (97,600) and India (18,800).
UNHCR’s Representative in Bangladesh Steven Corliss responded to the report urging the international community to show increased solidarity with Bangladesh.
“The figures released today once again demonstrate the generosity of the Government and people of Bangladesh in providing safety for so many Rohingya people forced to flee their homes”, he said.
Steven Corliss said the 2019 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis launched earlier this year seeks to raise US$ 920 million for the needs of the Rohingya refugees and affected Bangladeshi host communities.
“As of today, the appeal is less than a quarter funded. This is deeply worrying given that we are approaching the second half of 2019 and have entered the annual monsoon season, with high winds and heavy rains putting refugees at risk and damaging homes almost daily,” he said.
Steven Corliss said humanitarian agencies must receive the funding needed to continue delivering life-saving assistance and to improve conditions for refugees and host communities in Bangladesh.
Data shows that almost 70.8million people are now forcibly displaced. To put this in perspective, this is double the levelof 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a populationbetween that of Thailand and Turkey.
The figure of 70.8 million is conservative, in particular as the crisis in Venezuela is still onlypartly reflected in this number. In all, some 4 million Venezuelans have left their countrysince 2015 making this among the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
Althoughthe majority need international refugee protection, as of today only around half a millionhave taken the step of formally applying for asylum.
UN High Commissioner for Refugee Filippo Grandi said what they are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trendin the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution.
He said while languagearound refugees and migrants is often divisive, they are also witnessing an outpouring ofgenerosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting largenumbers of refugees.
“We are also seeing unprecedented engagement by new actorsincluding development actors, private businesses, and individuals, which not only reflectsbut also delivers the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees,” said Filippo Grandi.
He said, “We must build on these positive examples andredouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day.”
Within the 70.8 million figure in the Global Trends report are three main groups.
The firstis refugees, meaning people forced to flee their country because of conflict, war orpersecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000more than in 2017.
Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees who are underthe care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The second group is asylum seekers - people outside their country of origin and receivinginternational protection, but awaiting the outcome of their claim to refugee status. At theend of 2018 there were 3.5 million asylum seekers globally.
The third and biggest group, at 41.3 million, is people displaced to other areas within theirown country, a category commonly referred to as Internally Displaced People or IDPs.
Overall growth in displacement continued to exceed the rate at which solutions are beingfound for people who become displaced.
With refugees, the best solution is being able toreturn home voluntarily, in safety and dignity.
Other solutions include being integrated intothe host community or being resettled to a third country.
However, only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, less than 7 per cent of those awaiting resettlement. Some 593,800refugees were able to return home, while 62,600 became naturalized.
“With every refugee situation, wherever it is, however long it has been going on for, therehas to be an enduring emphasis on solutions and removing obstacles to people being ableto return home,” said Grandi.
“This is complex work in which UNHCR is constantlyengaged but which also requires all countries to come together for a common good. It isone of the great challenges of our times.”