UK humanitarian activist Julian Francis’s dream fulfilled
DHAKA, July 23, 2018 (BSS) – British humanitarian activist Julian Henry Francis’s dream of becoming a Bangladeshi citizen came true as he received a citizenship certificate from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today.
The Bangladesh government honored the 73-year-old, who has been living in Bangladesh for a long time, with granting citizenship for his remarkable contribution to the independence of Bangladesh and rendering services to the humanity.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the Bangladeshi citizenship certificate to Julian Francis at a function at her official Ganabhaban residence this afternoon,” PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told reporters after the event.
The press secretary said he (Francis) was so impressed by getting citizenship. “It’s a great honour for me,” he quoted Francis as saying.
Francis, who first came to Bangladesh on January 20 in 1972, highly appreciated Bangladesh’s extraordinary socioeconomic uplift during the tenures of the present government.
“There is no more monga (famine) in northern Bangladesh,” he said.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Prime Minister’s daughter and noted autism activist Saima Wazed Hossain, Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister Md Nojibur Rahman and Secretary of the Security Services Division of the Home Ministry Farid Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury were also present.
Francis was awarded ‘Friends of Bangladesh’ accolade in March 2012 for his unforgettable contribution to Bangladesh’s Independence War.
Julian Francis, fondly known as Julian Bhai among his Bangladeshi friends, joined a project of Oxfam in India’s Bihar state in 1968. He started working at the camps in India for the 1971 Liberation War refugees from Bangladesh.
He coordinated Oxfam’s relief operation in 1971, which provided assistance to Bangladeshis in refugee camps in the border areas of India.
Francis who is known ‘Friend of Bangladesh’ has been associated with relief and development activities of Bangladesh since the Liberation War.
Francis who was born at Molvern in the UK on April 29 in 1945 first came to Bangladesh on January 20 in 1972 and met Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He procured three ferries – Kasturi, Kamini and Karobi — at the advice of the Father of the Nation and with the assistance of the Oxfam.
Francis visited Bangladesh several times from 1978 to 1983 and engaged himself to serve the physically challenged people. He also worked for the flood affected people in 1987 and 1988 as well as the 1991 cyclone-hit people.
He was closely involved with the Red Cross/Red Crescent activities after the historic CHT Peace Treaty in 1997 and worked for improving the living standard of ultra poor people through the CLP programme.
Francis wished to live in Bangladesh for the rest of his life and he applied for Bangladeshi citizenship keeping intact his British citizenship for meeting his sister and two children living in the UK.