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Thursday, May 24, 2018

ADB mulling grant support to help tackle Rohingya crisis

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB), as an exceptional case, is actively considering grant support to Bangladesh to help tackle Rohingya crisis.

"Based on the request from the Bangladesh Government, ADB will consider providing a substantial amount of grant support, as an exceptional case, to refugees as well as host communities in close collaboration with the government and the World Bank", said the Bank's Country Director Manmohan Parkash.

A team from ADB led by the Country Director visited Cox's Bazar on Tuesday to identify scope and areas of a project to be developed jointly with the Govt.

The amount and date are yet to be confirmed but officials at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) hinted that the ADB might complete all procedures before July this year.

The assistance can be used to meet the basic needs of over 1 million Rohingya refugees, as well as the host communities, officials said.

The ADB delegation held meeting with Deputy Commissioner; and Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam. They also visited Kutupalong Rohingya camp on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, on the sidelines of the ADB annual meeting in Manila recently, said Bangladesh will seek financial support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the form of grants, not as loans, to help address the Rohingya crisis which has huge burden on Bangladesh.

The Finance Minister discussed the issue with the ADB President Takehiko Nakao during their meeting in Manila, Finance Ministry sources said.

Bangladesh approached every donor during recent conference in Washington including the World Bank.

The World Bank originally offered support both in the form of loans and grants but finally agreed to provide Bangladesh a grant to meet the basic needs of around one million Rohingyas who fled their homeland Myanmar.

In October last year, when Bangladesh sought assistance, the WB had said it would provide a mix of soft loans and grant, but Bangladesh refused to take loans.

Terming global refugee crisis as a "very serious" one, Muhith said the international development bank should come forward to play some roles in this regard.

Bangladesh currently has a Rohingya population, which is far more than Bhutan's entire population.

Bhutan has around 800,000 people whereas Bangladesh had to give shelter to some 1.2 million Rohingyas.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on November 23, 2017. On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on 'Physical Arrangement' which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

The 'Physical Arrangement' stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation. However, the repatriation on the ground is yet to start.

The Finance Minister recently said Bangladesh maintained above 7 percent growth over the last three years but he does not know what would happen next year as Bangladesh needs to provide a great deal of funds to Rohingyas. "And that is not productive investment at all."


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