Dhaka, Mar 21 (UNB) - Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR Volker Turk on Thursday laid emphasis on continuing discussion on the Rohingya relocation plan making sure that it is done on a voluntary basis.
“As you know, the UN has had very constructive discussion with the government of Bangladesh on the relocation issue and it's important for us to continue this discussion,” he said during a media briefing at a city hotel in the evening.
Bangladesh has planned to relocate Rohingyas to Bhasanchar Island in Noakhali from Cox's Bazar camps with required facilities for them there. Bangladesh is currently hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
Turk stressed creating required conditions in Rakhine State of Myanmar for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Rohingyas to their place of origin with the full restoration of their rights.
UNHCR assistant high commissioner said it is important that there is sustained attention of the international community to help Bangladesh manage the Rohingya issue here.
“It’s absolutely crucial and we’ll do everything within our power to ensure that there’ll be continued international attention. You’ve literally saved millions of lives. It’s absolutely crucial that the international community continues to support Bangladesh and the host communities,” he said.
Terming the situation in Rakhine very complex, he said they do not have access to Northern Rakhine at the moment though they were able to get access to 60 villages in 2018.
He concluded his visit to Bangladesh following high-level discussions with the government of Bangladesh in the pursuit of solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis.
During his five-day visit, Turk was accompanied by the Agency’s Director of the Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Indrika Ratwatte, and the Director of External Relations, Dominique Hyde.
He met many Rohingyas in the Kutupalong refugee settlement – the world’s largest one – and discussed how they see their future.
Turk also met the key government officials, who have led the Rohingya response in Cox’s Bazar district, to review the challenges they are facing and the opportunities they see as the response evolves.
In Dhaka, Turk held high-level talks with the government of Bangladesh that focused on finding solutions fostering the development of conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees to Myanmar.
They also discussed ways to expand opportunities of the Rohingya refugees to build their skills and knowledge, particularly so they can contribute to society in Myanmar when they are able to return.
The UNHCR assistant high commissioner said he was encouraged by and deeply appreciative of the government’s unrelenting commitment to finding solutions and improving the situation for the Rohingya.
"UNHCR and the government have agreed to focus and strengthen collective efforts that can lead to tangible improvements in their lives, in particular women and girls at risk,” he added.
UNHCR’s discussions with the government also focused on the importance of supporting Bangladeshi host communities.
Turk said the people of Bangladesh and, especially those living in Ukhiya and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar district, were the first responders in 2017, and they have continued to show a tremendous humanitarian spirit and generosity.
"The impacts of the Rohingya refugee presence on their lives must be recognised and addressed,” he said.
While in Cox’s Bazar, Türk visited one of five centres in the Kutupalong settlements where a joint government-UNHCR registration exercise is being scaled up to provide biometric ID cards for all Rohingyas.
The cards provide enhanced protection and make the delivery of humanitarian assistance and services more effective and efficient.
Registration and documentation will also play a key role in confirming that individuals who have been displaced from Myanmar have the right to return to their country when it is safe for them to do so.
So far, over 125,000 refugees have been registered and issued with ID cards.
“The Rohingya are stateless people as well as refugees,” said Turk.
“These cards are important means to protect their identity and their right to return to Myanmar. The Rohingya represents the largest group of stateless refugees in the world. Many have never had proper identity documents. This is a big milestone in protecting their identity,” he added.
The UNHCR assistant high commissioner also saw what the government and humanitarian community, including UNHCR, have delivered on the ground, including community-based protection projects that help refugees develop skills, confidence and their ability to meet their own needs, as well as preparations ahead of the upcoming cyclone and monsoon season.
“I’m very impressed by how much we’ve all managed to achieve together, but also the way the refugee themselves are leading change within their community,” said Turk.
He went on saying, “If you look around, it’s very clear that the response is much more robust than what I saw a year and a half ago. The refugees tell me that they feel more secure, which is extremely important.”
The UNHCR assistant high commissioner said with more than half a million young girls and boys in the camps, they now need to give more refugees more opportunities to channel their energy into meaningful and productive activities and secure the future of the Rohingya population once they are back home.
Turk leads UNHCR’s refugee protection work globally and he last visited Myanmar and Bangladesh in October and November, 2017.
Dhaka, Mar 21 (UNB) – Using advanced technology for traffic management might be an effective solution to lessening congestions in major cities in Bangladesh giving those a smarter look, said Japanese Prof Naohiro Kitano here on Thursday.
He laid emphasis on a comprehensive and holistic approach combing land use planning, transportation planning and use of advanced technology to give cities a smart look.
Prof Kitano of Faculty of Science and Engineering Waseda University made the suggestions while delivering a lecture titled ‘Bangladesh-Japan Development Cooperation for Enhanced Connectivity’ at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) auditorium in the city.
BIISS Director General AKM Abdur Rahman delivered welcome address at the event organised by the BIISS and the Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and Takeshi Ito of the Embassy of Japan were also present.
Prof Kitano laid emphasis on sharing experiences between the two countries saying Japanese government proposed the smart city by integrating city and transportation planning with ICT.
He also talked about Transit Oriented Development (TOD) around the station of Light Rail Transit (LRT) apart from focusing on various facilities and human activities are connected by ICT efficiently.
The Japanese Prof highlighted changing the landscape of development cooperation, Japanese official development assistance (ODA), Japan-Bangladesh development cooperation and Japan’s development experience and knowledge sharing.
He also touched upon ‘Pacific Belt Zone’ initiative, the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B), development of Dhaka urban transport network and transport network development for regional connectivity.
Responding to a question, the Japanese expert said people-to-people contact is very important at every layer.
Prof Kitano said Bangladesh’s economic and social development has been remarkable.
He focused on different aspects of mutual cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan for further deepening the relations.
The Japanese Prof also focused on cooperation with Bangladesh in energy sector development, waste management, establishing economic zone and academic exchanges.
Prof Kitano focused on the Japanese model for development cooperation, explaining its feature as ‘long-term commitment with trust’ that can benefit the people in the recipient country through its inclusive approach and human resource development.
He also shed light on the way Japanese ODA has been facilitating the physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity, referring to the recent ODA projects in Bangladesh, such as, BIG-B initiative.
The BIG-B initiative is a Japan-led development plan to accelerate industrial agglomeration along the Dhaka-Chottogram-Cox’s Bazar belt area and beyond, encompassing developing economic infrastructure, improving investment environment and fostering connectivity.
Projects under this initiative include the construction of ultrasuper critical coal-fired power plant and a new commercial port in Matarbari.
Earlier, Maj Gen Rahman highlighted the longstanding relationship between Bangladesh and Japan which is based on shared values of peace and prosperity.
Senior government officials, business personalities, academia, researchers, teachers from various universities participated in the open discussion.
Dhaka, Mar 21 (UNB) – Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has underscored the importance of South-South Cooperation (SSC) in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in developing countries.
“I may recall here that Bangladesh highlighted the importance of SSC in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda even before its adoption in the ‘High Level Meeting on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the post Development Agenda: Financing for Development in the South and Technology Transfer’ that it hosted in Dhaka in May 2015”.
The minister said this while delivering country statement at the plenary meeting of the Second UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday.
He also said that Bangladesh has included the SSC in its National Policy for Development Cooperation (NPDC), such as in various programmes and platforms under the Access to Information (A2I).
The minister also announced that Bangladesh is planning to set up a “South-South Knowledge and Innovation Centre” which would provide a platform to it and other countries to co-create solutions addressing challenges they face in advancing technology transformation, particularly emanating from 4IR, share their innovative practices and identify experiences which could be transferred, replicated and scaled up.
To strengthen and further invigorate South-South Cooperation, the UN General Assembly is convening this high-level conference on SSC on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries.
The High-level Conference is being hosted by Argentina which commenced on Wednesday and will continue till Friday.
Bangladesh has been elected as one of the Vice Presidents of the Conference. The Minister also chaired the high-level plenary meeting for a while.
When delivering his speech, the Foreign Minister shared some thoughts and plans of Bangladesh to promote SSC including proposal to establish a forum of Development, Finance, Economic and Foreign Ministers of the South to discuss, dialogue, and explore the potentials as well as the critical issues of the South in the context of achieving the SDGs.
Mentioning that the Diaspora of the South, which possesses wealth of knowledge and experience, is expanding across the globe, the FM stressed upon that SSC should provide them a platform to work closely in their countries of origin and play a more meaningful role in their development.
Recognizing SSC as an effective cooperation mechanism in the development trajectory of Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said, “Under the leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we are now implementing our national development Vision 2021 to see ourselves as a middle-income country and Vision 2041 to transform the country into a ‘Sonar Bangla”, a developed one. We are in the process of graduation from the LDC category and we are conscious that this transition would make us face a new set of development challenges as a middle-income country. As we embark on that journey, we wish to harness the potential of SSC to address our huge development needs and challenges”.
Foreign Minister Momen thanked the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) for incorporating five innovative development solutions of Bangladesh which are Union Digital Centre, SDG Tracker, Empathy Training, Service Innovation Fund and Time Cost Visit Model of public service delivery in ‘the UN Global Publication on Best Practices’. He referred to another UNOSSC’s publication named “South-South in Action: Citizen Friendly Public Service Innovation in Bangladesh” which tells Bangladesh’s success in ensuring good governance.
He also urged the member states of SSC to come forward for strengthening strategic partnership through the framework of South- South and Triangular Cooperation.
Prior to delivering the country statement, the Minister attended a side event titled “A Glimpse of the future South-South and Triangular Cooperation: Asia-Pacific’s contribution in Science, Technology and Innovation” at University of Buenos Aires, jointly hosted by A2I and UNOSSC.
In this side event the Foreign Minister enumerated the achievements of the government of Sheikh Hasina in science, technology and innovation and urged South-South and Triangular Cooperation to offer more collaboration among the developing countries and the development partners in the areas of knowledge, experience, best practices, training, capacity building and technology transfer as well as mutual learning and the coordination of STI policies and strategies towards achieving sustainable development.
In the day-long engagements, the Minister also met the President of General Assembly (PGA) Ms María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Foreign Minister of Georgia David Zalkaliani and the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala Mr. Jairo D. Estrada B.
In those bilateral meetings, he and his counterparts exchanged views and ideas and shared their respective country’s development endeavors. PGA praised Bangladesh’s generosity for providing shelter and humanitarian support to the forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar. She also lauded Bangladesh’s indomitable success in social and economic development and its proactive role in climate change negotiations.
Dhaka, Mar 21 (UNB) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has offered best wishes to all who are marking the International Day of Nowruz being celebrated in a spirit of “friendship, reconciliation and harmony” on Thursday.
“May the Nowruz holiday serve as an inspiration to us all,” said the UN chief in a message marking the day.
For more than 300 million people across the world, Nowruz is about new beginnings: the arrival of a new year; the first day of spring; the renewal of nature.
“For all of us, it is a chance to reaffirm our commitment to peace, human rights and human dignity; to fostering dialogue and mutual respect; to protecting the planet and building a future that leaves no one behind,” he said.
Dhaka, Mar 21 (UNB) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said investigations into allegations of grave human rights violations in Myanmar's Rakhine State remain absent.
She said there are currently no conditions for the voluntary, sustainable, dignified, and safe returns of the over 730,00 Rohingyas currently in Bangladesh, as well as the almost 130,000 internally displaced people who have been living in camps in central Rakhine since the violent events of 2012.
On Wednesday, Bachelet presented reports on the situation in nine countries including Myanmar, as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.
Bachelet urged rapid steps towards creating the requisite conditions for safe and voluntary returns, as well as recognition by the authorities of the reality of what has occurred, as a first step towards real accountability.
Referring their report she also said no steps have been taken to adequately address the issue of citizenship of the Rohingya people.
There is essentially no representation of the Rohingya community at any level of decision-making, said Bachelet.
On Myanmar, the UN rights boss said systematic discrimination and pervasive restrictions on freedom of movement continue to severely damage the human rights and fundamental freedoms of members of the Rohingya community.
Their report on the situation of human rights of Rohingya people in Rakhine State assessed progress made by Myanmar in its cooperation with the mechanisms in five principal areas which they have consistently identified as human rights priorities: citizenship; participation in public life; fundamental rights and freedoms; displacement and the right to return; and accountability, according to a message received from Geneva.
It noted initial steps by the government of Myanmar to implement some recommendations, particularly among those issued by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
However, the report emphasised that the overall objectives of the recommendations remain largely unaddressed, with no significant progress observed on human rights concerns raised in previous reports.
It also raised concerns regarding participation in public life, noting that there is essentially no representation of the Rohingya community, at any level of decision-making.
It recommended measures to ensure their participation in political processes, particularly in view of the 2020 parliamentary elections, as well as adequate representation in the civil service.
The report called for immediate and concrete measures to put an end to this situation, as repeatedly recommended by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and the UN human rights system.
Bachelet said the government should address major concerns that perpetuate segregation and bar access to basic services, including limited freedom of movement, access to health services, and livelihood opportunities.
"Participation of refugees and IDPs at all stages of the return processes is a critical element for the creations of adequate conditions."
The report expressed concern about the absence of investigations into allegations of the grave violations of human rights that have been occurring in Rakhine, following the attacks of August 2017, and the failure to investigate or prosecute high-ranking officials of the military.
In several other areas, notably Kachin State and Shan State, armed conflict and related humanitarian issues also give rise to concern.
Since 2012, Myanmar has created eight commissions of inquiry, all of which exonerated the security forces from any criminal responsibility for acts committed during fighting and clearance operations.