This crisis now becoming a regional threat, she tells UNGA
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has placed a four-point proposal at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to resolve the Rohingya crisis which is becoming a regional threat.
She urged the international community to understand the untenability of the situation as the Rohingya crisis is now going beyond the camps.
“Despite our efforts to contain it, the crisis is now becoming a regional threat. Besides, increasing congestion and environmental degradation is challenging health and security in the area,” she said.
The proposals she placed are — Myanmar must manifest clear political will supported by concrete actions for sustainable return and reintegration of Rohingyas to Myanmar; Myanmar must build trust among Rohingyas by discarding discriminatory laws and practices and allowing “‘go-and-see” visit to Northern Rakhine by Rohingya representatives; Myanmar must guarantee security and safety of the Rohingyas by deploying civilian monitors from international community in the Rakhine state; and the international community must ensure that the root causes of Rohingya problem are addressed and the violation of human rights and other atrocity committed against the Rohingyas are accounted for.
In the 72nd UNGA in 2017, Hasina had put forth a five-point proposal to resolve the crisis which included full implementation of recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission, and establishment of civilian monitored safe zone in Rakhine.
Delivering her speech in the 74th UNGA at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday afternoon (local time), the prime minister said it was indeed unfortunate that she had to again raise this issue in this august body as the Rohingya crisis remains unresolved.
She said Bangladesh continues to host 1.1 million Rohingya who were forced to leave Myanmar due to atrocities committed against them.
“The crisis is now lingering into the third year; yet not a single Rohingya could return to Myanmar due to absence of safety and security, freedom of movement and overall conducive environment in Rakhine State of Myanmar,” she said.
“We are bearing the burden of a crisis which is Myanmar’s own making. It is an issue solely between Myanmar and its own people, the Rohingyas. They themselves have to resolve it,” said the prime minister.
She said the voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine in safety, security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis, adding that Bangladesh will continue its engagement with Myanmar to make the repatriation of the Rohingyas happen.
Lending support to Palestinians
The prime minister said the value of UN’s role in maintaining international peace and security is enormous. “We stand firm in our support for our Palestinian brothers and sisters till their just and rightful struggle comes to fruition,” she said.
Noting that three million innocent people were killed and 2,00,000 women violated during the 1971 Liberation War, she said: “Our painful experiences have emboldened us to continue to speak for the oppressed people.”
‘Bangladesh, a development miracle’
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has often been cited as a “development miracle”.
“Despite turbulence in the rule-based international order, and apprehensions of gradual economic slowdown, Bangladesh continued to prosper over the last 10 years,” she said.
According to the Spectator Index 2019, Bangladesh recorded the highest economic growth among a list of 26 countries in the last 10 years, with 188% expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) at the current prices.
“Our GDP has grown from $102 billion in 2009 to $302 billion this year,” she said.
“We continue to embark on a pragmatic program for the rapid economic and social development.”
The exports of Bangladesh grew three times from 2005-06 to reach $37 billion in 2017-18, while the per capita income grew 3.5 times and foreign exchange reserve grew nine times to $33 billion. The GDP growth has now reached 8.13%, Hasina said.
Describing poverty and inequality as two major obstacles to development, she said Bangladesh has achieved one of the fastest poverty reduction rates in the world with poverty rate dropping from 41.5% in 2006 to 21.4% in 2018, extreme poverty from 24% to 11.3%.
A key development strategy in Bangladesh has been addressing inequality through social security, decent work and financial inclusion, she said, adding that the social safety programs are expanding, now covering nearly a quarter of the population and accounting for 2.58% of the country’s GDP.
Hasina also highlighted the development and activities in the country’s different sectors including education, health, electricity, IT, telecommunication and blue economy.
The prime minister said the global disposition for climate action generated by the just concluded Climate Action Summit would translate into real impetus for implementation of Paris Agreement in the broader context of 2030 Agenda.
“Our long-term plan for adaptation and resilience is anchored in our Delta Plan 2100,” she said, adding that the plan focuses on food security, water safety, climate change, environment sustainability, disaster management and sustained economic growth.
“Following the recent Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation, we are working on setting up a ‘Global Centre for Adaptation’ in Dhaka,” she said.
Culture of peace
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh continues to promote the idea of “Culture of Peace”, which has now transcended time and become a dominant theme at the UN.
As the second largest troops and police contributing country, Bangladesh continues to respond to the appeal for participation of troops for peacekeeping operations under the UN, she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh promotes safe, orderly and regular migration. Irregular migration and human trafficking are global menaces rooted in complex nets of syndicates and criminal networks.
“To prevent and suppress human trafficking nationally and also to foster international cooperation in tackling human trafficking we have recently acceded to the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons,” she said.
Making UN as a strong multilateral body
Describing multilateralism as the strongest panacea for resolving the global problems and create global goods, Sheikh Hasina said the UN is the symbol of hope for peace, stability and prosperity, as envisioned by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the 1974 UNGA.
“Bangladesh will continue to support the United Nations as a strong multilateral body, which would be fully equipped to deal with the tasks and responsibilities assigned to it under the charter,” she said.
“With the 75th anniversary of the UN coming up next year, let us call for collective actions to build a stronger UN for our civilization to deal with emerging challenges for the next century,” she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh appreciates the reform initiatives of the secretary general, particularly the UN Development System.
“We will continue to lend our support to the bold and constructive actions of the secretary-general to make this prime organization ‘fit-for-purpose’ and strengthen people’s trust in it,” the prime minister said.
As the world’s principal multilateral body, the General Assembly is best positioned to steer the actions that would promote international cooperation in achieving development, peace and security, she said, adding that the emphasis given to specific SDGs, such as, poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion, are critically important for our civilization.
At the outset of her speech, Sheikh Hasina recalled the architect of Bangladesh, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She said Bangladesh is now preparing to celebrate the birth centenary of this great leader beginning in March 2020.
“Reflecting on his vision and aspirations, we wish to bring this celebration to the United Nations in the next year,” the prime minister said.