ADB considers grant support for Dhaka to help tackle Rohingya crisis

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 DHAKA, May 15, 2018 (BSS) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is actively considering a substantial amount of grant support to Bangladesh, as an exceptional case, to help tackle the 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 ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash.

A team from ADB led by the Country Director visited Cox’s Bazar today (Tuesday) to identify scopes and areas of a project to be developed jointly with the government.

The amount and date are yet to be confirmed but officials at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) under the Ministry of Finance hinted that the ADB might complete all procedures before July this year. The assistance may be used to meet the basic needs of over 1 million Rohingya people as well as the host communities, said an ADB official.

The ADB delegation held separate meetings with local Deputy Commissioner (DC) M Kamal Hossain and Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam. They also visited Kutupalong Rohingya camp on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier during a press conference marking the 51st Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the ADB in Manila in the first week of May, its President Takehiko Nakao reiterated ADB’s offer of support to help the government address the Rohingya crisis, if requested. On Rohingya issue, the ADB president also had said they were aware of the humanitarian aspect of the crisis and the impact of the Rohingya influx on Bangladesh economy.

“We’re prepared to support them. We’re waiting for their (Bangladesh-Myanmar) requests.” Nakao said.

During his visit to Bangladesh in February, Nakao commended the way Bangladesh handled the situation as over 700,000 people from Myanmar crossed into Bangladesh border since August 25, 2017.

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 been a huge burden on the country.

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

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.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a 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.

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