Published:  12:26 AM, 13 September 2017 Last Update: 08:54 PM, 13 September 2017

Bangladesh needs $1b every year for Rohingya refugees


Bangladesh needs an estimated $1 billion a year from the international community to provide "basic amenities" to the Rohingya refugees without impacting country's Annual Development Program or ADP.

An economist estimated the amount and said that the government should seek international support for the huge number of refugees that took shelter in Cox's Bazar after fleeing persecution inside Myan-mar. Dr Ashikur Rahman, a senior economist at the Policy Research Institute or PRI, said the government must start asking that fund from the international community now. "Other-wise this will put huge pressure on our annual development program, ADP," he told bdnews24.com.

Since Aug 25, an estimated 290,000 people are believed to have crossed the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh, tripling the Rohingya population in Cox's Bazar in two weeks. The United Nations said new settlements have been formed and are expanding rapidly, but people there have little access to basic services and amenities.

It also said that humanitarian agencies operating in Cox's Bazar urgently need $77 million to assist those who fled violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Dr Rahman, a PhD in political economy from the London School of Economics, said his $1 billion estimation was "very conservative". Germany which is 15 times more than Bangladesh's economy allocates Euro 21 billion for their less than 1 million refugees.

"It is expected that a country spends 70 to 80 percent of its per capita income for a refugee. So calculating that way, we'll have to spend at least $1,300 a year for every Rohingya for ensuring their basic amenities such as shelter, food, basic healthcare and sanitation," Dr Rahman said.

"We don't know the exact number of Rohingya population. Based on UN estimates we can assume that the number now stands between 0.5 million to 0.7 million with the previous population who were staying in Bangladesh for decades," he said.

"So the annual budget will be something between $800 million to $1 billion," he said, adding that, "at least we must have a year preparation before any outcomes of our diplomatic efforts to send them back to any safe zone inside Myanmar". He said the budget the UN is now asking for would be finished within two or three months. "We must start seeking help from the international community now".

Ruling Awami League's General Secretary Obaidul Quader earlier said Bangladesh, which is grappling to manage flood damage, is not capable of bearing this "huge burden. "So, we now seek the UN's intervention."The size of this year's ADP is about Tk 1.5 trillion.

-bdnews24.com

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