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Dhaka Tribune

PM Hasina welcomes refugee compact at the UN

She said the compact has been adopted at a time when the world is faced with a swelling refugee crisis

Update : 26 Sep 2018, 01:45 PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomed the United Nations’ (UN) latest refugee agreement while attending, “The Global Compact on Refugees: A Model for Greater Solidarity and Cooperation.”

The event was organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and took place on September 24, at the beginning of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Global Compact on Refugees (The Compact) stems from the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, wherein all 193-member states agreed that there should be a shared international responsibility to support refugees and a compact should be developed to this end.

The Compact, developed by UNHCR in consultation with governments and various stakeholders, comprises four key areas: i) easing pressure on host countries; ii) enhancing the self-reliance of refugees; iii) expanding access to third country solutions; and iv) supporting conditions in countries of origin to ensure safe repatriation.

The Compact is particularly relevant to Bangladesh as is the country faces the brunt of the Rohingya refugee crisis, and currently hosts around 700,000 Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 2017—to escape persecution by the Myanmar security forces in Rakhine State.

Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina welcomed The Compact and urged the UN member states to demonstrate political will and commitment to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis. She also highlighted the need to address the core causes of forced displacement, and to ensure the safe return of refugees to their countries.

She said The Compact has been adopted at a time when the world is faced with a swelling refugee crisis. Innocent people from various conflict-torn countries are leaving their homes for safety and security while many countries like Bangladesh are giving them shelter, protection and hope.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shed light on the effect of the influx of nearly a million Rohingyas on the country.

The Bangladeshi premier also presented three specific recommendations at the event regarding the Rohingya crisis:i) abolishing discriminatory laws, policies and practices against Rohingyas in Myanmar; ii) creating a conducive environment by building trust and guaranteeing protection; iii) ensuring rights and a pathway to citizenship for all Rohingyas – as well as preventing atrocities against Rohingyas in Myanmar – by ensuring justice and accountability.

While The Compact is a step in the right direction, it perpetuates the status quo regarding spatial allocation of refugees—with developed countries largely guarded from an influx of refugees. Currently, developing countries host 85% of the world refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, and under The Compact, there is little possibility for relocation, with current host countries expected to continue providing geographic space while developed nations keep their borders closed—and primarily assist through aid for the refugees and host countries.

“The diversion of resources for the Rohingya has taken a toll on society, the environment, and the economy,” Sheikh Hasina said.

The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, in his address to the General Assembly, expressed his measured optimism regarding The Compact.

“The approval of a compact on refugees… represents signs of hope, even if there is still a long way to go to reconcile full respect for the rights of people on the move with the legitimate interests of states,” said Guterres.

The UN General Assembly will vote on The Compact in December 2018.

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