November 25, 2020, 7:56 am

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury

2020-07-23 12:32:42 BdST

Khurushkul Ashrayan Prokolpo: A result of a joint movement of COAST and Kutubdia ParaThe struggle of Climate Refugees will continue

Thank you, honorable Prime Minister, for the Khurushkul Ashrayan Prokolpo!

Sincere greetings and best wishes for the inauguration of the project, that is providing shelter to around 600 families which is the world's first rehabilitation project from our own government money. We, the entire countrymen are proud of that.

While the biggest climate polluter has taken little responsibility in this regard. It resulted from the joint movement of COAST and the inhabitant of Kutubdia Para during 2011-12.

Families uprooted from Kutubdia island aftermath of the 1991 cyclone settled on the Kutubdia Para. Families were mostly from Kudiatertek and Uttar Dhurung of Kutubdia Upazila, these villages mostly have gone under seawater rise now.

Kutubdia Para inhabitants were under the order of eviction for the construction of new airport and air force facilities. The inhabitants started a movement, given a memorandum to the then Deputy Commissioner.

COAST was helping them, a group of journalists from Dhaka organized and visit the place wrote stories. There was some misunderstanding with some government quarter, COAST was banned.

We have succeeded to meet the highest policy-making official of the countries, our movement succeeded to convince that Bangladesh needs the airport, but we need to rehabilitate this climate refugees and for development of tourism especially for middle-class tourist, the rail link is much more essential than the air transport.

Maybe in April 2012, Prime Minister visited Cox’s Bazar and announced about both the airport and railway link.

Two personalities have spearheaded the movement, Mr. Nurul Alam the then COAST staff, he was very popular with the people of Kutubdia and Mr. Akhter Kamal, the leader of Kutubdia Para. They mobilized people and they had to suffer a lot on a personal level.

The then Awami League leader Mr. Nazrul Islam Chowdhury and the then Deputy Commissioner showed exceptional sympathy towards the movement, they gave a favorable report to the government high up including to the honorable Prime Minister.

Several times we meet the then Forest & Environment Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud, (The present Information Minister) and Bangladesh climate negotiation team leader Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman.

They draw the issue both at the national and international levels, especially as because of their efforts the first time in the global level climate conference, the Cancun Agreement in clause 14.f accepted the climate refugee issue in 2014. We have observed.

After the movement wherever the Prime Minister gave a speech on the climate issue, she mentioned the severe problem of climate refugees.

The then Foreign Secretary Mr. Sahidul Haque and the Foreign Ministry officials gave all efforts to place the issue in all levels.

With the help of Foreign Ministry, COAST was proud to produce a coffee book for the Prime Minister.

From 2008 to 2019, from Copenhagen to Madrid, in all climate conferences, COAST organized a public seminar on the issue.

COAST is still in the advisory board of Platform on Disaster displacement, where 32 countries are members.

In the last Climate Adaptation Board conference in Dhaka, it was a privilege for me to spell this background story to all the participants, as because of my proposal, some members of the international participants visited Cox’s Bazar.

We thank the army engineer core, who constructed the project with the best efficiency.

But here it is not the end of the story of climate refugees. It is estimated that by the next 30 to 50 years, one-third of Bangladesh population i.e., 1 in each 5 will become climate refugees, in the entire world it will be 1 in every 15.

Kutubdia people are still suffering, during the 6 months of the rainy session they suffer from the tidal surge.

There are investments from government for embankment, but Water Development Board has hardly been able to show any accountability and efficiency.

Our study shows that each year around 10 thousand people leave Kutubdia. Still, people of Kutubdia hope for a super dike, which is under the Delta plan.

We should also consider how these displaced people can be supported with a new skill and an alternative place for rehabilitation.

COAST has supported and will continue to support as it is not only a fund eater service delivery NGO, it is a civil society organization that’s why it works for the civic rights and do a partnership with the marginalized population.

Honorable Prime Minister, we solicit your continued attention to the plight of the climate refugees.

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