Friday, January 18, 2019

Donors losing interest in Rohingyas: WFP chief to Hasina

  • Reazul Bashar, from Rome
    Published: 2018-02-13 12:16:31 BdST


Donors have lost interest in giving emergency aid to Rohingyas, David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, has told Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The WFP, however, will stand by Bangladesh to ensure food security in the country, he told Hasina during a meeting at a Rome hotel on Monday, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque has said.

Hasina reached Italy on Sunday to attend a conference of the International Fund of Agricultural Development or IFAD.

She will present the keynote paper at the inaugural session of the IFAD governing council conference on Tuesday.

In the last six months, the WFP has supplied food items worth $80 million to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Haque said quoting Beasley. “But now the donors are losing interest.”

More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar's Rakhine state and took shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh after an army crackdown on their villages on Aug 25 last year.

Now Bangladesh, with aid from the United Nations and other international agencies, is sheltering some 900,000 Rohingyas.

The countries have signed a deal on their repatriation but the process is yet to start.

The emergency aid must flow into the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar as the deadline of repatriation is as long as two years away.

David Beasley said that the UN lately faced difficulties to keep up the flow despite best possible efforts, Haque said.

The rainy season which is nearing may worsen the situation, Beasley feared. On this, Hasina said her government plans to relocate the refugees to Bhasan Char for the time being.

Last September, Hasina placed a five-point proposal at the UN General Assembly session in New York to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

She asked Beasley to move the international community to push for the implementation of those proposals.

“Beasley described WFP’s Rohingya campaign to Hasina and said he had briefed the US president over the issue twice so far,” Haque told reporters.

WFP will implement 13 projects worth $300 million in Bangladesh between 2017 and 2020, according to Beasley.

The premier held a meeting with the Bangladeshi Honorary Consulate in Rome later the day where she called on the consuls to take care of Bangladeshi immigrants and increase Italian investments to economic zones in Bangladesh.

Hasina reached Vatican City on Feb 12, where she held meetings with Pope Francis and Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

The four-day visit comes at the invitation of IFAD President Gilbert F Houngbo and Pope Francis.

Bangladeshi immigrants in Rome will host a reception for Hasina on Tuesday. The premier is expected to fly back to Dhaka on Feb 15.