Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has renewed her call to the United Nations and the international community to put more pressure on Myanmar to repatriate its nationals who have been “forcibly displaced” to Bangladesh.
The premier made the call following a courtesy visit by UN Under Secretary Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu to the PM’s office in Dhaka on Wednesday.
“Bangladesh has given shelter to the Rohingya people on humanitarian grounds but it will not be possible for us to keep them here for a long time,” Sheikh Hasina said.
The premier said the people of Cox’s Bazar district are experiencing difficulties with the arrival of tens of thousands of Rohingya people who have fled to Bangladesh following the atrocities committed against them in their homeland.
“Bangladesh experienced severe flooding this year (and) the Rohingya crisis has become an additional burden for the country,” she said.
Also during her meeting with the UN under secretary, Sheikh Hasina highlighted her government’s various successes in different fields including the empowerment of women, the development of agriculture, and poverty reduction and rural development.
“The government is giving utmost priority to research for boosting agriculture production,” she said.
Referring to Bangladesh’s commendable successes in achieving the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the prime minister expressed her firm determination that it would also be able to achieve the sustainable goals (SDGs) set by the UN.
The UN under secretary said she highly appreciated Bangladesh’s development in various sectors and said the world body is reviewing its assistance for Bangladesh as the country is set to graduate to a middle income country from an LDC.
Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu sought to reassure the premier that UN assistance will not be stopped if Bangladesh achieves middle income status, saying: “The UN step should not be like a punishment”.
In this regard, the UN representative said the graduation of a country from an LDC to a middle income country is “a success of the UN efforts”.
She said: “The UN is now revisiting rules and laws about how to provide the assistance to every individual country even after its graduation to a middle income country”.
The UN under secretary said the UN would extend some kind of packages of assistance depending on the requirements and vulnerability of every single country, and it would also discuss the requirements with the respective country.
In a briefing to reporters, the prime minister’s press secretary, Ihsanul Karim, explained that previously the UN used to give such assistance under a single policy for all countries graduated to middle income countries from least developed countries.
Prime Minister’s International Affairs Advisor Dr Gowher Rizvi and Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury were also present.