World Bank Loans to Bangladesh will Intensify the Rohingya Crisis

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Civil society Protests World Bank’s Loan for Bangladesh to solve the Rohingya crisis

Dhaka, 8 June 2024: The Rohingya crisis has become increasingly more complex in seven years. Persistent funding shortfalls have compounded that crisis. When there is no option but to repatriate, the World Bank intensified this crisis by giving more loans to the already debt-ridden Bangladesh to solve it. Speakers said this at a human chain and rally organised by nine civic and development organisations in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka today.

Led by the Equity and Justice Working Group (EquityBD), the rally was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Sundarban O Upakul Surokha Andolon, CSRL, NDF, FN Foundation, Trinamool Unnayan Sangstha, Water Keepers Bangladesh and Youth Net for Climate Justice. EquityBD Secretariat Coordinator Mustafa Kamal Akand moderated the short rally and EquityBD’s Chief Moderator Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury presided over the meeting. Zayed Iqbal Khan of Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Omour Farooq Bhuiya of BDCSO Process, Mamun Kabir of Water Keepers Bangladesh, Assistant Professor Mir Mohammad Ali of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Abdullah Al Hadi Munna of FN Foundation spoke in the meeting. Mr Abul Hossain, President of the Garment Workers Federation, and Lion Akbar Hossain, the brave freedom fighter, spoke in solidarity.

Mustafa Kamal Akand said during the rally that the per capita fund allocated for the Rohingya population has already dropped from $12 to $8. Every year the funding for them is gradually decreasing. However, the international organisations engaged in humanitarian programs are not reducing management costs accordingly. This management cost must be reduced immediately. Otherwise, this crisis will become extreme.

Freedom fighter Lion Akbar Hossain said that debt is always a negative thing. Be it an individual, or a country. Meanwhile, a newly born child in Bangladesh is already in debt. So, we are against making Bangladesh more indebted. To take Bangladesh to the dream we fought for independence, we must get out of debt.

Mir Mohammad Ali, assistant professor of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, said that the World Bank loan will not help Bangladesh in any way. Rather, it will push the already debt-burdened country towards more crisis.

Omour Farooq Bhuiya of BDCSO Process said that Bangladesh is already burdened with debt, which must be paid by the common people of the next generation. Meanwhile, the per capita debt of the country is 580 dollars. Increasing this debt means putting the next generation in debt before they are born.

Mamun Kabir of Water Keepers Bangladesh said that we are not responsible for this crisis. So we will not take any loans to face this crisis. Whether it’s for the Rohingya or the local communities affected by them, we have to be given donations. Not a loan.

EquityBD’s Barkat Ullah Maruf said the refugee crisis around the world is growing but funding for emergency assistance is shrinking. This global funding shortfall against the appeal for emergency response in 2023 was $36 billion. The appeal for the Rohingya Response was some 918 million dollars. Only 25% of the funds asked for was received so far for the Rohingya crisis last year. In such cases, repatriation is the only option. If the World Bank wants to help Bangladesh overcome the crisis, it should provide funds for repatriation.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Chief Moderator of EquityBD, said that the Bangladesh government is spending 1.2 billion dollars every year beyond the Rohingya relief program. When the Bangladesh government asked for assistance in the development of local communities affected by the Rohingya crisis, the World Bank offered a loan for this. We are protesting this because, since Bangladesh is not responsible for this crisis, it must not take loans.

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