Bangladesh has expressed its displeasure to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk over a recent letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a press note on the country “without waiting for fuller information and facts.” “We expect that human rights mechanisms would give themselves adequate time before jumping to conclusions without the benefit of full facts to avoid the risks of being influenced by rumors and unverified information,” according to Bangladesh’s response to Türk on November 10. The letter seen by UNB notes that the UN rights chief’s letter, dated November 1, 2023, addressed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been written “hastily without waiting for fuller information and facts” to emerge and without allowing sufficient time for reflection. The letter mentioned that a press note was also “hurriedly released” from Türk’s office on the same issue without consulting Bangladesh, and without taking into consideration the facts and figures the country provided along with “horrific images and video footage taken from neutral sources.” Guided by the obligations emanated from the constitution, Bangladesh side said that the government has been allowing and extending necessary cooperation to all political parties including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to arrange assemblies, protests, processions etc. Read: Bangladesh can be an ideal location for BRI, IPS cooperation: Prof Imtiaz In this spirit the government allowed mass assemblies convened by different political parties on October 28, 2023 on the streets of Dhaka despite the declared objective of a major opposition party – BNP – to create anarchy and disconnect Dhaka from other parts of Bangladesh as a pressure tactic, reads the letter. During its rally and strike on October 28-29, the unruly activists of BNP – “misguided” by the propaganda of its leaders – took recourse to indiscriminate street violence, arson, other forms of violent activities on the apolitical law enforcement agency members, police stations, CCTV cameras, the judiciary, media personnel, innocent civilians, state institutions, hospitals, ambulances, fire service vehicles and public properties, according to Bangladesh’s reply to Türk. A member of the police was beaten to death while more than 100 police officers were injured, a bus worker was burnt alive, residences of the chief justice of Bangladesh and other judges of the Supreme Court were attacked, it said. Read: Economy buffeted by political unrest amid declining forex reserves: Analysts On the following days, as BNP spread the “campaign of arson and terror” all over Bangladesh, a few more people were killed, reads the letter. “It is unfortunate that BNP unleashed its attacks on the on-duty media personnel. TV cameras were snatched away and at least 25 journalists were attacked, several of whom were admitted to hospitals. Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) condemned these attacks by the BNP activists,” according to Bangladesh’s response. In the letter, Bangladesh said Türk’s office should conduct an unbiased assessment of BNP’s targeted attacks on the press impeding freedom of expression. “Let me reassure you that our law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are well-trained to apply minimal and optimal force as they seek to prevent destruction of property or lives. Our LEAs deserve appreciation for being reasonable and restrained despite a member of the Police being mercilessly beaten to death by BNP hoodlums,” reads the letter. The current government, as a democratically elected one, is committed to uphold the rule of law and ensure peace and security, it said. Every single arrest made following the incident of October 28, was based on specific allegations against the persons concerned, Bangladesh said. “There has been no arbitrary arrest and detention, and we assure them access to full legal recourse as allowed under domestic laws,” the letter said. Read: Uncertainty, tension grip students, parents amid raging political crisis In its reply, Bangladesh also mentioned that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia was convicted on corruption charges in two cases while a few other cases are ongoing – all of which were filed during the 2007-08 caretaker administration. Considering her health condition, based on the application of her family members, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suspended her sentence under legal provision. “Begum Khaleda Zia was offered a release for a period of six months on conditions of (a) taking treatment in Bangladesh and (b) not leaving the country. She accepted the conditions under which she was released on 25 March 2020 and her release tenure was extended several times,” said the government of Bangladesh. Bangladesh in its reply mentioned that she has been receiving treatment of the highest standard at the Evercare Hospital, one of the best hospitals in Bangladesh, as per her choice. Recently, her family members and the leadership of BNP sought permission from the government to bring specialist doctors from the USA for her treatment. The government accorded its permission. Bangladesh appreciated engagement of Türk’s office with the government of Bangladesh on the recent developments. “As Bangladesh is constructively and consistently engaged with the UN mechanisms in promoting and protecting human rights, we expect our steadfast commitment would be reciprocated with the spirit of cooperation and proportionality,” reads the letter to the UN rights chief. Read EC to announce polls schedule in a couple of days: PM Hasina
Some 780 million people around the world are going hungry and almost fifty million children are at risk of death from severe wasting, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “Yet funding for this year’s global humanitarian appeal stands at just 32 percent,” he said in a message marking the World Food Day that falls on October 16. World Food Day 2023 comes during a global food crisis, with the world moving backwards on ending hunger and malnutrition. Brian Urquhart, early leader of United Nations, dies at 101 “This World Food Day, I call on governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to work together; to prioritize feeding the hungry; to bring ending this crisis to the top of the global agenda; and to invest in long-term solutions that provide everyone with enough to eat,” said the UN chief, noting that zero hunger is achievable. Guterres said in their world of plenty, it is outrageous that a person dies of hunger every few seconds, while the World Food Programme has been forced to cut its essential aid programmes. Kofi Annan was the United Nations In 2015, after years of progress, governments set the goal of zero hunger by 2030. But eight years later, the number of people suffering from hunger has increased significantly. “This crisis demands action – first and foremost from national governments, which have a responsibility to make sure their people have enough to eat. But many governments lack the resources to do so, and so effective international solidarity is also essential,” said the UN chief. The long-term causes of the global food crisis include conflicts, climate extremes, inequality, and economic instability, he said. Dr Debapriya reappointed to United Nations CDP The UN system is addressing these root causes through our support for sustainable, equitable food systems that put people over profits. “That means massively scaling up investments in resilient agriculture, and aligning them with climate action. It means leveraging science and technology to improve the efficiency and reach of food systems,” Guterres said. This year’s theme for World Food Day focuses on water – a necessity for nutritious and healthy food. The sustainable management of water for agriculture and food production is essential to end hunger, achieve the SDGs, and preserve water for future generations, said the UN chief.
The world leaders have stressed that building resilience and tackling the adverse impact of climate change should be an urgent priority for all as the planet grapples with chaotic weather patterns. At the UN General Assembly high-level debate on Thursday, more than a dozen heads of state and government spotlighted the need for concrete climate measures, as opposed to mere promises, calling for reforming global financial institutions and unlocking funds for developing countries to allow them to catch up on the path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. They also emphasised that the current exclusionary architecture, dominated by a few states, is failing to deliver the requisite resources, saying no meaningful climate action or development can take place in conditions of financial distress. Govt can't guarantee violence-free election without support from all: FM Momen Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, cited climate as the most pressing of all emergencies and drew attention to the afforestation initiative that he undertook in his capacity as President of the Congo Basin Climate Commission. Pointing out that arable land in Africa must be protected from the impacts of climate change, he called for effective technical and financial partnerships. José Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste, proposed to accelerate energy transition in fragile developing States by unlocking finance through debt alleviation, streamlining international finance at the lowest interest rates and increasing development assistance. Wesley Simina, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, implored all parties to the Paris Agreement — particularly major emitters — to commit to emissions reductions of at least half by 2030 and peg their net-zero goals no later than 2050. Uzra Zeya discusses Bangladesh's upcoming national election with PM Hasina: US Embassy Han Zheng, Vice-President of China, stressed the importance of the Paris accord and the need to stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad, and to vigorously support developing countries to create more green energy projects. For its part, he said, China will continue to prioritize ecological conservation and the advancement of green and low-carbon development. “Through Chinese modernization and rejuvenation, the country seeks to achieve harmony between humanity and nature while promoting ethical material advancement.” Jessica Alupo, Vice-President of Uganda, called on developed countries to fulfil their commitment, in line with the Paris Agreement, to provide $100 billion — annually, through 2025 — to developing countries to assist with mitigation and adaptation. Answering that call, Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy of Denmark, said his government is increasing grant-based climate finance to its highest level ever this year, doubling its contribution to the Green Climate Fund next year, and tripling its contribution to climate finance in developing countries by 2030. Dhaka urges OIC members to contribute voluntary fund to bear legal expenses of Rohingya case “The world needs to better leverage the enormous potential of international financial institutions, and development banks must raise trillions of dollars for climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he insisted. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, said high temperatures resulting from global warming are driving threats of fires, heat waves and landslides in different countries. “While the world acts decisively on long-term mitigation, the international community is “collectively guilty in not placing enough emphasis on short-term adaptation” he said, calling for the creation of a global forum that can deliver access to new financing to drive such adaptation “before it is too late.” Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ in a video message to the ministerial meeting of the least developed countries, pushed for a Climate Solidarity Pact in which all countries make extra efforts to reduce emissions this decade. “Developed countries must also present a clear and credible road map to double adaptation finance by 2025. The $100 billion goal must be met, and the Green Climate Fund must be fully capitalised,” he said.
Digital Quality of Life Index 2023: Bangladesh ranks 82nd, internet quality 5% lower than global average
Bangladesh has dropped six places on Surfshark’s annual Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index since last year. The country ranked 82nd among 121 countries, according to Surfshark’s 5th annual DQL index. The Digital Quality of Life Index is an annual study that ranks 121 countries by their digital wellbeing based on 5 core pillars. Also read: Bangladesh climbs 5 spots in latest passport ranking, still behind Sri Lanka and Libya The study is based on the United Nations’ open-source information, the World Bank, and other sources. Out of the index’s 5 pillars, Bangladesh performed best in internet quality, claiming 65th place.
With no end in sight for Ukraine war, Biden at UN says world must remain united against Russian aggression
President Joe Biden made his case before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that the world must remain united in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression, warning that no nation can be secure if "we allow Ukraine to be carved up" as he tries to rally support for Kyiv's effort to repel a nearly 19-month-old Russian invasion that has no end in sight. The U.S. president called on world leaders to not let support for Ukraine diminish, arguing that Russia is counting on countries to grow tired of prolonged conflict in Kyiv which will "allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence." Russia alone is standing in the way of a resolution, Biden argued, saying that Moscow's price for peace was "Ukraine's capitulation, Ukraine's territory and Ukraine's children." "I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?" Biden said in his address. "If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? US House of Representatives to open Biden impeachment inquiry He continued: "I'd respectfully suggest the answer is no." The president's forceful rhetoric on Ukraine appeared aimed not just for a global audience but for Washington, where an increasingly isolationist strain of the Republican Party is jeopardizing the prospects of the U.S. successfully replenishing the steady flow of aid that has gone to Kyiv since the war began in February 2022. The Biden administration has asked Congress to greenlight an additional $24 billion in security and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but Republicans who control the House have all but ignored that request as lawmakers scramble to ensure government funding remains flowing beyond the end of September. Animated by the views of former President Donald Trump, a vocal faction of House Republicans remain steadfastly opposed to more Ukraine aid, even as other GOP lawmakers, primarily in the Senate, continue to advocate support for Kyiv to dissuade Russia from spreading its attacks beyond Ukraine's borders. "We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow," Biden said in his U.N. address. "That's why the United States - together with our allies and partners around the world — will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom." Other senior members of the Biden administration were making their case on Tuesday, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austinpushed allied defense leaders in remarks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to "dig deep" and provide more air defense systems for Ukraine to help the country wage its counteroffensive. Indeed, the broader message is intended to resonate beyond Moscow and even Capitol Hill. Washington remains on guard against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims have caused tension in the region. Beijing also wants to reunite the mainland with the self-governing island of Taiwan, a goal that raises the prospect of another war. Your achievements are very impressive: Biden tells PM Hasina During his address, Biden described the partnerships that the U.S. government was fostering around the globe — from Africa to the Indo-Pacific — that he said were creating economic, security and other advancements, even as he stressed that those relationships were not about "containing any country" — a clear reference to Beijing. "When it comes to China, let me be clear and consistent," Biden said. "We seek to responsibly manage competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict. I've said we are for de-risking — not decoupling — with China." Biden emphasized that Beijing and Washington need to cooperate on climate, and referenced recent natural disasters — devastating heat waves, droughts and floods around the globe — as part of a "snapshot" that tells the "urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof the world." Despite his own emphasis on climate as a priority, Biden does not plan to attend a special summit on climate that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will host on Wednesday, where countries are encouraged to bring new ideas and proposals on how to further cut emissions and combat climate change. Officials played down Biden's absence at the climate summit, and said John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, will attend in Biden's place. In his 30-minute address, Biden also repeatedly emphasized the value of institutions such as the United Nations and international coalitions that has helped the world confront significant challenges such as poverty and disease, as well as echoing his defense of democracy, a common theme of his presidency. Biden has intention to build good relations with Bangladesh: Momen "We will not retreat from the values that make us strong," Biden said. "We will defend democracy — our best tool to meet the challenges that we face around the world. And we're working to show how democracy can deliver in ways that matter to people's lives." The annual forum was a chance for Biden to showcase to other world leaders — and the 2024 U.S. electorate — that he's reestablished U.S. leadership on the world stage that he says was diminished under Trump. There were some notable absences as Biden addressed the General Assembly: British Prime Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin — the leaders of the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — are all skipping the gathering. U.S. officials downplayed that fact and instead emphasized the importance that Biden attaches to showing up at the annual diplomatic forum. For Biden, the more important audience for Tuesday's speech could be closer to home as he looks to make the case to voters that he's skillfully handled a complicated foreign policy agenda and that the experience that comes with age has proved to be an asset. It's an argument that the 80-year-old Biden is likely to continue to make to counter skepticism — even in his own Democratic Party — among voters who are concerned about his age. After the speech, Biden sat down with Guterres, and later Tuesday met with leaders from the so-called C5 group of Central Asian nations, which include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Saying the cooperation among the nations is at "new heights," Biden outlined several areas of collaboration including on critical minerals and disability rights. Xi has stepped up his own courting of those countries. During his own summit in May with the Central Asian leaders, Xi promised to build more railway and other trade links with the region and proposed jointly developing oil and gas sources. "We are stronger, and I genuinely believe the world is safer, when we stand together, our five nations," Biden said following the closed-door meeting with the leaders. Biden is scheduled to host talks Thursday at the White House with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen has said Bangladesh has long been dedicated to the cause of women empowerment and women's meaningful participation in the peace and security process. He also highlighted Bangladesh's leadership in women empowerment and active engagement of women in community development initiatives. The Foreign Secretary was speaking at a multi-stakeholders consultation and implementation review workshop on Bangladesh’s national plan on women, peace and security (NAP WPS), jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UN Women on Sunday. EU, Bangladesh commit to enhancing good nutrition through good governance Masud Momen invited the participants at the workshop to focus their discussions on women's effective role in addressing challenges like violent extremism, child marriage and social mobilization to enhance communal harmony. The Foreign Secretary joined the event as the chief guest, while the country representative of the UN Women Gitanjali Singh was present at the event as the special guest. Representatives from different Ministries, foreign diplomatic missions, civil society organizations including a number of grassroots level women organizations, were also present at the event. Other speakers also emphasized on the importance of the equal role of women in the decision making process for effective implementation of the WPS agenda. The objective was meant to enhance understanding on the Women, Peace and Security agenda among all stakeholders and to ensure effective collaboration to take forward the agenda by sensitizing those who work at the grassroots level for effective implementation of it. EU's Election Exploratory Mission to begin activities Sunday Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha made presentations on their actions and initiatives on WPS agenda. The workshop participants engaged in a tabletop exercise and reviewed the implementation of the National Action Plan, effective till 2025, challenges and ways to overcome them. MoU signed for cross-border cooperation in research on ocean sciences
UN steps up criticism of IMF and World Bank, the other pillars of the post-World War II global order
From the ashes of World War II, three institutions were created as linchpins of a new global order. Now, in an unusual move, the top official in one — the secretary-general of the United Nations — is pressing for major changes in the other two. Antonio Guterres says the International Monetary Fund has benefited rich countries instead of poor ones. And he describes the IMF and World Bank 's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a "glaring failure" that left dozens of countries deeply indebted. Also Read: Budget not based on IMF conditions: Finance Minister Guterres' criticism, in a recent paper, isn't the first time he's called for overhauling global financial institutions. But it is his most in-depth analysis of their problems, cast in light of their response to the pandemic, which he called a "stress test" for the organizations. His comments were issued ahead of meetings called by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday and Friday to address reforms of the multilateral development banks and other issues. Neither the IMF nor the World Bank would comment directly on the secretary-general's criticisms and proposals. But Guterres' comments echo those of outside critics, who see the IMF and World Bank's leadership limited by the powerful nations that control them — a situation similar to that of the United Nations, which has faced its own calls for reform. Also Read: Bangladesh faces external pressures, requires careful macroeconomic management: World Bank Maurice Kugler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, told The Associated Press that the institutions' failure to help the neediest countries "reflects the persistence of a top-down approach in which the World Bank president is a U.S. national appointed by the U.S. president and the IMF managing director is a European Union national appointed by the European Commission." Richard Gowan, the International Crisis Group's U.N. director, said there is a lot of frustration with the U.S. and its European allies dominating decision-making, leaving African countries with only "a sliver of voting rights." Developing countries also complain that the bank's lending rules are weighted against them, he said. "In fairness, the bank has been trying to update its funding procedures to address these concerns, but it has not gone far enough to satisfy countries in the Global South," Gowan said. Guterres said it's time for the boards of the IMF and the World Bank to right what he called the historic wrongs and "bias and injustice built into the current international financial architecture." Also Read: Bangladesh receives $858 mln World Bank fund for agriculture growth, road safety That "architecture" was established when many developing countries were still under colonial rule. The IMF and what is now known as the World Bank Group were created at a conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944 to be key institutions of a postwar international monetary system. The IMF was to monitor exchange rates and lend reserve currencies to countries with balance of payment deficits. The World Bank would provide financial assistance for postwar reconstruction and for building the economies of less developed countries. Guterres said the institutions haven't kept pace with global growth. He said the World Bank has $22 billion in paid capital, the money used for low-interest loans and grants for government development programs. As a percentage of global GDP, that's less than one-fifth of the 1960 funding level. At the same time, many developing countries are in a deep financial crisis, exacerbated by inflation, rising interest rates and a standstill in debt relief. "Some governments are being forced to choose between making debt repayments or defaulting in order to pay public sector workers — possibly ruining their credit rating for years to come," Guterres said, adding that "Africa now spends more on debt service costs than on health care." The IMF's rules unfairly favor wealthy nations, he said. During the pandemic, the wealthy Group of Seven nations, with a population of 772 million, received the equivalent of $280 billion from the IMF while the least developed countries, with a population of 1.1 billion, were allocated just over $8 billion. "This was done according to the rules," Guterres said. This is "morally wrong." He called for major reforms that would strengthen the representation of developing countries on the boards of the IMF and World Bank, help countries restructure debts, change IMF quotas, and revamp the use of IMF funds. He also called for scaling up financing for economic development and tackling the impact of climate change. IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack, asked about Guterres' proposals at a June 8 news conference, said "I'm not in a position to comment on any of the specifics." She added that a review of IMF quotas is a priority and is expected to be completed by Dec. 15. In a written response to a query from the AP, the IMF said it has mounted "an unprecedented" response to the largest-ever request from countries for help dealing with recent shocks. After the pandemic hit, the IMF approved $306 billion in financing for 96 countries, including below-market rate loans to 57 low-income countries. It also increased interest-free lending fourfold to $24 billion and provided around $964 million in grants to 31 of its most vulnerable nations between April 2020 and 2022 so they could service their debts. The World Bank Group said in January that its shareholders have initiated a process "to better address the scale of development." The bank's development committee said in a March report that the bank "must evolve in response to the unprecedented confluence of global crises that has upended development progress and threatens people and the planet." Guterres' push for reforming the IMF and World Bank comes as the United Nations also faces demands for an overhaul of its structure, which still reflects the post-World War II global order. Gowan said many U.N. ambassadors think it might be "marginally easier" and more helpful to developing countries to overhaul the IMF and World Bank than to reform the U.N. Security Council, which has been debated for more than 40 years. While Guterres and U.N. ambassadors talk about reforming the financial institutions, any changes are up to their boards. Gowan noted that when the Obama administration engineered a reform of IMF voting rights in 2010, "Congress took five years to ratify the deal — and Congress is even more divided and dysfunctional now." "But Western governments are aware that China is an increasingly dominant lender in many developing countries," Gowan said, "so they have an interest in reforming the IMF and World Bank in ways that keep poorer states from relying on Beijing for loans." Beyond the Paris meeting, the debate over IMF and World Bank reforms will continue in September at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 in New Delhi, and at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. U.S. climate chief John Kerry said in an Associated Press interview Wednesday that he will be attending the Paris summit along with IMF and World Bank officials. "Hopefully, new avenues of finance will be more defined than they have been," he said. "I think it's really important."
Some 110 million people have had to flee their homes because of conflict, persecution, or human rights violations, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says. The war in Sudan, which has displaced nearly 2 million people since April, is but the latest in a long list of crises that has led to the record-breaking figure. "It's quite an indictment on the state of our world," Filippo Grandi, who leads the U.N. refugee agency, told reporters in Geneva ahead of the publication Wednesday of UNHCR's Global Trends Report for 2022. Also Read: Record 108.4 mln people forcibly displaced by end of 2022: UNHCR Last year alone, an additional 19 million people were forcibly displaced including more than 11 million who fled Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in what became the fastest and largest displacement of people since World War II. "We are constantly confronted with emergencies," Grandi said. Last year the agency recorded 35 emergencies, three to four times more than in previous years. "Very few make your headlines," Grandi added, arguing that the war in Sudan fell off most front pages after Western citizens were evacuated. Also Read: UN agencies warn of starvation risk in Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mali, call for urgent aid Conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Myanmar were also responsible for displacing more than 1 million people within each country in 2022. The majority of the displaced globally have sought refuge within their nation's borders. One-third of them - 35 million - have fled to other countries, making them refugees, according to the UNHCR report. Most refugees are hosted by low to middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, not rich countries in Europe or North America, Grandi said. Also Read: Sudan military ruler seeks removal of UN envoy in letter to UN chief, who is 'shocked' by the demand Turkey currently hosts the most refugees with 3.8 million people, mostly Syrians who fled the civil war, followed by Iran with 3.4 million refugees, mostly Afghans. But there are also 5.7 million Ukrainian refugees scattered across countries in Europe and beyond. The number of stateless people has also risen in 2022 to 4.4 million, according to UNHCR data, but this is believed to be an underestimate. Also Read: Thousands of exhausted South Sudanese head home, fleeing brutal conflict Regarding asylum claims, the U.S. was the country to receive the most new applications in 2022 with 730,400 claims. It's also the nation with the largest backlog in its asylum system, Grandi said. "One of the things that needs to be done is reforming that asylum system so that it becomes more rapid, more efficient," he said. The United States, Spain and Canada recently announced plans to create asylum processing centers in Latin America with the goal of reducing the number of people who trek their way north to the Mexico-U.S. border. Also Read: UN: Sudan conflict displaces over 1.3 million, including some 320K to neighboring countries As the number of asylum-seekers grows, so have the challenges facing them. "We see pushbacks. We see tougher and tougher immigration or refugee admission rules. We see in many countries the criminalization of immigrants and refugees, blaming them for everything that has happened," Grandi said. Also Read: War in Ukraine, disasters left 71mn people internally displaced in 2022: Report Last week European leaders renewed financial promises to North African nations in the hopes of stemming migration across the Mediterranean while the British government insists on a so-far failed plan to ship asylum-seekers to Rwanda, something UNHCR is opposed to. But there were also some wins, Grandi said, pointing to what he described as a positive sign in the European Union's negotiations for a new migration and asylum pact, despite criticism from human rights groups. Also Read: Sudan's government declares UN envoy ‘persona non grata’ Grandi also celebrated the fact that the number of refugees resettled in 2022 doubled to 114,000 from the previous year. But he admitted this was "still a drop in the ocean."
There has been no progress in the level of bias against women over the previous ten years, with nearly nine out of ten men and women still believing such prejudices globally, according to a new UN report released on Monday (June 12, 2023). UN Development Programme (UNDP) in its most recent Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) says , "Half of people worldwide still believe men make better political leaders than women, and more than 40% believe men make better business executives than women." Also Read: 9 countries inc. Bangladesh release first national estimates of illicit financial flows with UN support “Social norms that impair women’s rights are detrimental to society more broadly, dampening the expansion of human development,” said Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office. A staggering 25 per cent of people believe it is justified for a man to beat his wife, according to the report, reflecting the latest data from the World Values Survey. The report said that these biases are to blame for the obstacles women encounter, which have taken the form of the denial of women's rights in many regions of the world, the growth of movements opposing gender equality, and an increase in human rights abuses in some countries. The stark underrepresentation of women in leadership positions is another example of bias in action. Since 1995, the percentage of women serving as heads of State or governments has generally hovered around 10%, and in the job market, they make up less than one-third of executive posts. The report also sheds light on a broken link between women’s progress in education and economic empowerment. Also Read: A child or youth died once every 4.4 seconds in 2021: UN report Women are more skilled and educated than ever before, yet even in the 59 countries where women are now more educated than men, the average gender income gap remains a 39 per cent in favour of men. “Lack of progress on gender social norms is unfolding against a human development crisis,” Conceição said, noting that the global Human Development Index (HDI) declined in 2020 for the first time on record and again the following year. “Everyone stands to gain from ensuring freedom and agency for women,” he added. The UNDP report emphasized that governments have a crucial role in shifting gender social norms, from adopting parental leave policies, that have changed perceptions around care work responsibilities, to labour market reforms that have led to a change in beliefs around women in the workforce. “An important place to start is recognizing the economic value of unpaid care work,” said Raquel Lagunas, Director of UNDP’s gender team. The report emphasized that despite the continued prevalence of bias against women, the data shows change can happen. Also Read: Rights groups slam severe Taliban restrictions on Afghan women as ‘crime against humanity’ An increase in the share of people with no bias in any indicator was evident in 27 of the 38 countries surveyed. The report authors said that to drive change towards greater gender equality, the focus needs to be on expanding human development through investment, insurance, and innovation. This includes investing in laws and policy measures that promote women’s equality in political participation, scaling up insurance mechanisms, such as strengthening social protection and care systems, and encouraging innovative interventions that could be particularly effective in challenging harmful social norms, patriarchal attitudes, and gender stereotypes. For example, combatting online hate speech and gender disinformation can help to shift pervasive gender norms towards greater acceptance and equality, according to the report. The report recommended directly addressing social norms through education to change people’s views, policies and legal changes that recognize the rights of women in all spheres of life, and more representation in decision-making and political processes. Read more: 90% of countries see decline in human development
Bangladesh should not bear the burden of more than 1 million Rohingya refugees alone while U.N. agencies are facing challenges to feed them, a United Nations official said Monday. Olivier De Schutter, a U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, made the statement at the end of a 12-day trip to Bangladesh, where he visited camps sheltering the refugees from Myanmar. He said the international response to meet the funds needed to support the refugees is "grossly insufficient." About $876 million is needed to support the community for a year, but only 17% of that has been pledged to date, he said, calling it "scandalous" at a news conference in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. "Bangladesh should not be left to shoulder the burden of the presence of the refugees on its own. These (U.N.) agencies should be much better supported in their work," De Schutter said. He said the World Food Program was forced in May to reduce the value of the monthly food vouchers it gives to each refugee from $12 to $10. It will be reduced further to $8 on June 1, he said. "In a context in which food inflation this year was about 8%, that means that in the camps, children are undernourished," De Schutter said. "The rates of malnutrition will increase. The rates of stunting will increase. The development of the child in that context will be endangered." Bangladesh has sheltered more than 1 million refugees as the Muslim Rohingya face widespread discrimination in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and other rights. More than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh starting in late August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a "clearance operation" against them following attacks by a rebel group. The safety situation in Myanmar has worsened following the military takeover two years ago. Bangladesh is currently working with China to start repatriation of the Rohingya to Myanmar as a pilot case. The U.N. said earlier that they were aware of such a move but were not part of it. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she would not force any refugees to move to Myanmar.