PM insists immediate implementation of UN deal with Myanmar

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NEW YORK, Sept 28, 2018 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today
insisted immediate and effective implementation of a UN agreement with
Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis accusing the country of disregarding its
commitment for their safe repatriation alongside denouncing the atrocities on
the ethnic minority population there.

“We want to see immediate effectiveness of the UN deal with Myanmar . . .
since the crisis erupted in Myanmar it has to be solved in Myanmar,” she said
while delivering her statement in the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) at UN
Headquarters.

Sheikh Hasina added: “As a fellow human, we can neither ignore nor remain
silent about the plight of the Rohingyas.”

The premier said the shocking UN report describing the atrocities and
crimes against humanity against Rohingyas “dumfounded us” but she expected
the international community and UN in particular to seriously look into the
matter.

“The Myanmar situation repeatedly reminds us of the genocide committed by
the Pakistan occupation forces against our people in 1971. During the nine
months of our Liberation War, the Pakistanis had killed three million
innocent Bengalis,” Sheikh Hasina said.

The premier said despite more than one agreement it reached with
Bangladesh, Naypyidaw took no tangible step to resolve the crisis.

“All the time Myanmar made verbal commitments to take back the Rohingyas,
but in reality the Myanmar authorities are taking no role,” she said.

The neighbouring country’s attitude upset Dhaka since “so far the process
for permanent and sustainable repatriation of Rohingyas could not be started
despite our (Bangladesh’s) sincere efforts”.

Bangladesh, she said, from the very outset of the crisis was trying to find
its peaceful solution through bilateral consultations and so far, reached
more than one bilateral arrangements with Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation.

She said some 1.1 million Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh were living in
their makeshift camps in an uncertain situation though “to the best of its
ability, Bangladesh has made arrangements for their food, clothing,
healthcare, child-care and security”.

Sheikh Hasina said she could feel the pain and suffering of countless
people around the world, persecuted and expelled from their homes like the
Rohingyas and added “it is impossible to build peaceful, just and sustainable
societies by ignoring such situations”.

She simultaneously recalled a five-point proposal she presented in the last
year’s UNGA session with a view to finding a durable and peaceful solution to
the sufferings of the forcibly displaced and hapless Rohingyas.

Sheikh Hasina, however, said until the Rohingyas could return home, they
would be provided makeshift abode in Bangladesh in a healthy condition and
towards that end she said, “We are taking steps to relocate them in suitable
areas with facilities of education, health care and other needs”.

Sheikh Hasina extended thanks to the countries and organizations including
the UN, the Commonwealth, and the OIC for showing solidarity with the
Rohingyas and providing support and assistance for them.

She called upon international organizations to join hands with her
government seeking assistance to help relocate the Rohingyas in a better
place.

In her statement, the prime minister also highlighted the socioeconomic
progress of Bangladesh with her stead position for international peace and
security, women empowerment and commitment to the UN goals.

Sheikh Hasina congratulated Maria Fernanda Espinosa for being elected as
the president of the 73rd UNGA and fourth female President of the UNGA and
assured her of giving Bangladesh’s full support in upholding her commitment
to the UN.

She also felicitated UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his firm
and courageous leadership in promoting global peace, security and sustainable
development.

Appreciating the theme of the 73rd UNGA “Making the United Nations
relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for
peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”, the prime minister said the
theme brings back some personal memories for her.

Forty-four years ago, Sheikh Hasina said, her father and Father of the
Bangladesh Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman envisaged the United
Nations to be a centre of hope for the future of the people.

Following the Independence, Bangabandhu directed his strength to rebuild a
war-ravaged country with a ruined economy. The people got back a sense of
relief. Bangladesh set on its journey ahead as an LDC.

“Yet, what a misfortune for our people, Bangabandhu could lead the country
only for three years and a half. He was brutally gunned down by assassins
with 18 family members on 15 August 1975,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said she is shocked by the continued violation of the rights
of the brotherly people of Palestine. This must come to an end. As the Chair
of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, Bangladesh will continue to work
with the international community for resolution of the Palestine question.

The prime minister said peace, humanity and development are most three
critical elements for advancing human civilization. “For the well-being of
human societies, we must continue to strive for humanity,” she said.

“Our main objective must be to serve the people and ensure their well-
being. It is humanity and goodwill that would take us forward on the pathway
to sustainable development,” she said.

“In a world faced with myriad of challenges, our common interest, shared
responsibility and sustainable partnership would be our best bet for
preserving the human civilization,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said in last 30 years, Bangladesh has contributed to
international peace by deploying over 158,000 peacekeepers in 54 missions.
Around 145 peacekeepers from Bangladesh have made their supreme sacrifice in
the line of duty, she added.

Currently, the prime minister said, more than 7,000 Bangladeshi
peacekeepers, including 144 women, are deployed in 10 different missions
where they have been acclaimed for their professionalism, courage and
success.

“As the original proponent, Bangladesh expected to see a more robust and
human rights centric Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration,”
she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh stands firm against terrorism and all
organised crimes. “We shall not allow our territory to be used for any
terrorist acts or any activity detrimental to the interest of our neighbours.

“Our ‘zero tolerance’ policy in countering terrorism will continue…our
‘whole of society’ approach has served us well in preventing violent
extremism, human trafficking and flow of illicit drugs. Bangladesh has
aligned itself with the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem
mooted by the United States,” she said.

Highlighting her government’s development policies, Sheikh Hasina said
since 2009, her government has been implementing inclusive and people-centric
development policies. In the last nine years and a half, she said, Bangladesh
has achieved a remarkable progress in different socioeconomic areas.

“On our way to realising Shonar Bangla as envisioned by our Father of the
Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we remain committed to fulfilling
our people’s aspirations.”

Sheikh Hasina said the World Bank has recognised Bangladesh as a middle-
income country in 2015 while Bangladesh is the 43rd largest economy in the
world in terms of nominal GDP. “Bangladesh’s per capita income has increased
from US$ 543 in 2006 to US$ 1,752 in 2018.”

Noting that Bangladesh is now recognised as a global development model,
she said: “We’ve commenced our journey from being an LDC to the status of a
developing country. The pathway for graduation is inextricably linked with
our SDG implementation strategy, which is integrated in our Seventh Five Year
Plan. We remain fully committed to implementing the SDGs”.

The prime minister said her government has taken a plan to set up 100
Special Economic Zones to create 10 million job opportunities. In the
backdrop of the current economic growth, she said, there are now immense and
large-scale business opportunities in Bangladesh.

Foreign investors are being offered various financial incentives like tax
holiday, avoidance of double taxation and exemption of duties, she said.

Reiterating her commitment to the implementation of the outcome of the High-
level Panel on Water, which was formed under the joint initiative of the UN
Secretary General and the World Bank President, Sheikh Hasina urged the
global leaders to take urgent actions on proper assessment and management of
water and investment in water.

She said under the social safety-net programmes, about 6.5 million elderly
men and women, widows, destitute women and persons with disabilities are
getting regular allowances in Bangladesh.

The prime minister said since 2010, students are receiving free textbooks
from pre-primary to secondary levels in school. “About 354.92 million books
were distributed among 43.76 million students in 2018 academic year.”

Mentioning that vision impaired students are receiving braile books, she
said children from ethnic minorities are being given books in their mother
languages.

Sheikh Hasina said around 20.03 million students from primary to graduate
level are getting stipends while the stipend money for 14 million students is
being sent directly to their mothers through mobile phones.

“We have ensured 100 percent enrollment at primary level. Literacy rate
has increased from 45 percent to 72.9 percent in the last nine and half
years,” she said.

Observing that women empowerment and participation is a major factor in
Bangladesh’s outstanding development, the prime minister said the government
has promoted women’s empowerment through enhancing their education
opportunities and facilitating their political and economic emancipation.

“We’ve created opportunities for girls to pursue their education free of
cost till 12th grade in public educational institutions,” she said, adding
that the ratio of girls and boys now is 53:47 at secondary level, which was
35:65 in 2009.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is perhaps the world’s only country where
the Speaker, the Leader of the House, the Deputy Leader of the House and the
Leader of the Opposition in its National Parliament are all women.

In the present parliament, she said, there are 72 elected female members
and 33 percent seats are earmarked for women in local government bodies to
promote women’s political empowerment at the grassroots.

The prime minister said around 20 million women are employed in
agriculture, service and industrial sectors while women constitute 80 percent
of 4.5 million workers engaged in the largest export earning garments sector.

She said women entrepreneurs are offered collateral free bank loans with 5
percent service charge. “About 10 percent of Small Entrepreneurs’ Fund and 10
percent of industrial plots are earmarked for women entrepreneurs.”

The maternal mortality rate in Bangladesh has decreased to 170 per 100,000
live births and child mortality rate under the age of five has gone down to
28 per 1,000, she said, adding that life expectancy has increased to 72 years
from 64 in 2009.

In the last fiscal, the prime minister said Bangladesh spent 5.9 percent of
its national budget in the public health sector. “This year, investment in
health has been increased by 17 percent. With around 18,000 community health
clinics and Union Health Centres operating, healthcare services have been
reached to our people’s doorsteps.”

She said thirty different types of medicines are being distributed among
people free of cost. “Tuberculosis prevention and control efforts have been
intensified to achieve the 2030 SDG target. As a result, TB related deaths
have reduced by 19 percent in the last two years,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has been playing a pioneering role in
raising awareness about the needs of children affected by autism and other
neuro-developmental disorders.

“To further consolidate our efforts, a specialised cell is being created in
the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare…a National Steering Committee and
a National Advisory Committee have already been set up and Saima Hossain
Wazed, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee and a member of the WHO expert
advisory panel on mental health, has been named as Goodwill Ambassador on
this issue for South Asia,” she said.

Welcoming the formation of the Secretary General’s High-level Panel on
Digital Cooperation, the prime minister said the underlying principle of the
vision for a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ is to promote people’s wellbeing.

“Widespread introduction of Internet-based public service delivery has led
to growth in job creation at grassroots level. The idea of a Digital
Bangladesh has become a reality,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has made its foray into the world of space
technology by launching its own satellite- Bangabandhu-1, becoming the 57th
country in the world, which sent satellite into the space.

“The launching of this satellite helped us realise the aspiration and dream
of our Father of the Nation to reach the outer space,” she said, “Bangabandhu
had instilled the dream by setting up the first satellite ground-station of
the country on 14 June 1975”.

About the climate vulnerability of Bangladesh, the prime minister said:
“We’ve integrated our development programmes and our efforts to build
capacity for combating climate change,” she said, adding that a mega project
titled ‘Delta Plan 2100’ has been developed considering the local
geomorphology and global climate change impacts.

In this regard, the prime minister reiterated her government’s commitment
to Paris Agreement saying Bangladesh is spending over one percent of its GDP
in addressing climate change impacts with promoting climate-resilient
agriculture.

She said initiatives have been taken to increase forest coverage from 22
percent to 24 percent in the next five years and a project worth US$ 50
million is being implemented for the conservation of the Sundarbans, the
world’s largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has now surpassed its neighbours in the
South Asia on a number of development indicators. “But, our journey has not
reached to its end. Our journey will continue till the day we can build a
‘Sonar Bangla’, which will be free from hunger, poverty, illiteracy and
exploitation,” she said.

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