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2019-12-04 22:03:45 BdST

Counting on political support to resolve Rohingya crisis: Minister

Appreciating the cooperation extended by different international organisations over the Rohingya issue, Planning Minister MA Mannan on Tuesday said it is necessary that the international community keeps supporting Bangladesh politically.

“I appreciate the help of many international organisations over the Rohingya issue. Not the material support alone but we still count on the (global) political support which is necessary to resolve the crisis,” he said.

The minister was speaking at a daylong policy workshop titled ‘Expanding the Evidence Base for Policy and Interventions in Cox's Bazar’ arranged by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), International Growth Center (IGC) and Yale University’s Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE) at Gulshan.

“Our policy from the day one has been to being very patient. Our prime minister is a very humanitarian person. The whole policy is framed with her ideas and own attitude towards life,” he said.

The minister also said the government is working closely with other countries of the region to find a suitable solution to the Rohingya issue.

He said the repatriation of Rohingyas is a must because it is the fundamental right of the displaced Myanmar nationals to go back to their native land. “It’s their basic right that they’ve to go to the place they were born, the place they’ve been living for decades. Their ancestors had been there.”

Mannan lauded the hosts and other INGOs working in the region for finding out a sustainable solution to the Rohingya issue. “With your support and the support of our neighbours particularly, we’ll be able to see a humane, rightful and substantial settlement of the issue,” he said.

British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said the Rohingya crisis has turned out to be a long-lasting concern. “It’s clear that the Rohingya population will be in Cox’s Bazar for a while. We’ve to be honest about the fact that the (Myanmar) mainland conditions are not right for an early return,” he said.

“We’re looking at a crisis that won’t be resolved quickly. The vector of intervention is changing from emergency response to something long term and it’s important that while we continue to press Myanmar to create an environment safe for return, we’re also developing our programme which will improve the lives of the refugees,” he added.

The High Commissioner noted that the local population of Cox’s Bazar must not be left out of the process while policymaking.

“It’s important to address the needs of the host population…they’re massively outnumbered, three to one by the refugee population. Their future needs to be addressed by the international community as well,” said the British envoy.

He also mentioned that regardless of the results of imminent election in Britain, the winning side shall treat the Rohingya issue with high priority.

According to the preliminary data of the Cox’s Bazar Panel Survey (CBPS), nearly 30 percent of the Rohingyas and 26 percent of Bangladeshis in close proximity to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban report symptoms of clinical depression. The IPA conducted the study by first carrying out a census of 45,916 households, to then randomly choose the 5,020 households to survey.

Imran Matin, Country Director of the IGC in Bangladesh and Executive Director of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, said, "Against the backdrop of a dearth of good quality data and evidence in the humanitarian context, this panel dataset of Rohingya and host communities allows us to actually understand the population we work with.”

Y-RISE Faculty Director Prof Mushfiq Mobarak, a Bangladeshi professor of economics at Yale University, said, “Our plan is to follow up with the individuals included in the survey and understand how their life changes year after year. The future rounds of the survey will be useful to track indicators for both populations, and adopt programmatic changes in response to data.”

IPA Peace and Recovery Program Director Sebastian Chaskel said, “The CBPS is an important tool that donors and practitioners working on the Cox’s Bazar response now have at their disposal. We look forward to seeing how the donor and practitioner communities will incorporate these findings into their important work.”

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