UK with Bangladesh to help address climate, Rohingya challenges, says the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Wednesday said that the Oxford vaccine would be available in Bangladesh once it is produced and ready for use
He, however, said there will be no clinical trial of the British vaccine in Bangladesh at this moment.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his UNGA speech, said the Oxford vaccine is now at stage 3 of clinical trials, and in the case of success AstraZeneca has already begun to manufacture millions of doses, in readiness for rapid distribution.
They have reached an agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses to low and middle-income countries.
The UK is giving importance to equal access to vaccines by all the countries.
The British high commissioner said the UK remains beside Bangladesh in addressing climate-related challenges and helping to resolve the Rohingya crisis apart from deepening trade and investment relations with Bangladesh.
High Commissioner Dickson made the remarks at DCAB Talks held virtually.
President of Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) Angur Nahar Monty also spoke at the event.
DCAB General Secretary Touhidur Rahman was present.
On the ground reality in Rakhine, Dickson said the situation in Rakhine is not very encouraging.
The high commissioner said they are very actively supporting the mechanism that exists to ensure accountability for the crimes committed against the Rohingyas.
He said Myanmar will continue to face pressure at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The British high commissioner said the UK, as a pen-holder for Myanmar on Rohingya issues, will make sure that Rohingya issues remain on the agenda in the UN Security Council (UNSC).
He said this is a very important partnership with Bangladesh. "We’re working very closely with Bangladesh and international partners."
The high commissioner emphasized the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State. "We’re doing everything we can."
The diplomat also highlighted the citizenship issue which can boost confidence among Rohingyas to return to their homes in Myanmar.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and two attempts to send back Rohingyas were failed amid trust deficit as Rohingyas do not believe the Myanmar government.
There have been only around 250 cases and around eight deaths showing that very small numbers of people directly got affected by Covid-19 in a very difficult environment, Dickson said.
The UK is already the second-largest donor in this space having contributed more than $331,024,640 since 2017.
"We’re now looking at what we can do in the longer term to continue that," said the high commissioner.
The high commissioner said they are playing a leading role in climate issues
"If coronavirus is the immediate challenge, there’s no question now that climate is the long-term challenge," he said, adding the UK is working very closely with Bangladesh on this.
The UK is the chair of the next year’s Conference of the Parties (COP26), the international gathering that aims to build on the Paris Agreement and ensure there is an agreement across the world in both mitigating and the emission of carbon but also adapting to climate change.
"We’re working particularly closely with Bangladesh because Bangladesh is the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum which represents the countries which are most vulnerable to climate change," said the high commissioner.
Dickson said he sees a very exciting time in Bangladesh-UK relations. "We’re seeing a lot of interest in British businesses and in the government (to enhance trade relations).”
He said the UK provides very high-quality goods and services in Bangladesh.
Dickson said they are working on some program as Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence, and 50 years of remarkable development as an independent country next year.
He said he is most encouraged by the trade relationship between the two countries. "We’re already Bangladesh’s second-largest investor, and we’ve total bilateral trade of around $5,172,768,000 a year."
A questioner wanted to know whether the UK will give a visa to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia if the government allows her to go to the UK for treatment.
In reply, the high commissioner said, "We don’t comment on individual cases."
Dickson also said if Begum Zia applied for a visa the decision would be for ministers who would take into account factors, including that many of her family live in the UK.