The World Bank has said it is ready to stand with a programmne of support Bangladesh to help Rohingyas crisis to cope with their huge entry into Bangladesh. "We appreciate that Bangladesh is supporting the Rohingya people as it works diligently to reduce poverty and increase prosperity," said Annette Dixon, Vice President at the World Bank for the South Asia Region, during his meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday.
The World Bank Vice President also said, "While we hope the refugees can safely return home soon, it's important that the international community support them and the host communities in the near term with basic services. We'll do everything we can to provide that support." The World Bank said while Bangladesh has kept its door open to the refugee influx, its ability to provide for them has been stretched, as the country struggles with its own poverty challenges.
The value of the World Bank investment has yet to be decided but the programme of support could include expanding access to health, education, water, sanitation, and roads. Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the situation has affected Bangladesh greatly and is still evolving with new refugees arriving every day.
"We're especially thankful for the strength and generosity of the Bangladeshi people. However, the scale of the needs requires a global humanitarian and development response, and we look forward to the World Bank's support," he said.The government of Bangladesh can tap into a new and innovative World Bank financing instrument, the special window for refugees of the International Develop-ment Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for the poorest.
A World Bank delegation will travel to Bangladesh 'soon' to monitor the current refugee situation, discuss it with the Bangladesh government and determine the level of support to be provided, he said. The World Bank-affiliated International Development Association, or IDA, has created a new fund called the 'Refugee Fund', which will go into supporting refugees across the world.
A total of $2 billion is allocated to the fund. Any country in need of the assistance can apply for a maximum of $400 million in loans over a three-year term. "How much Bangladesh will receive from this fund and its conditions will be decided quickly," Muhith said.
Georgieva told bdnews24.com that she respected and praised Bangladesh for opening its borders to the Rohingyas. "We will do all we can to help Bangladesh. We have a refugee window that would be glad to help Bangladesh."
"We will also take steps to ensure no-one is deprived of our support and that locals and Rohingyas can coexist peacefully. We also express our boundless gratitude for what Bangladesh has done for humanity." The six-day annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank will end Oct 16.
A 15-member high-level delegation from Bangladesh, led by Muhith, has gone to Washington to attend the meeting. The UN, various donors and development organisations are working to increase their assistance to more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees who have crossed the border into Bangladesh since the start of a Myanmar military operation in Rakhine state on Aug 25.
Asked whether the government could face criticism for borrowing more from the World Bank, Muhith said: "We have yet to decide whether it will be grants or loans. And what is the problem with taking loans in order to support the Rohingyas? We are doing this for humanitarian reasons. We are standing by the helpless. Those who would criticise this are rubbish." "Even if the support comes in the form of loans the interest will be very low. I see no reason to be concerned about this."
The finance minister spent a busy first day at the World Bank-IMF meetings. In addition to his discussion with the two World Bank officials, Muhith also met IMF DMD Mitsuhiro Furusawa and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency DMD Keiko Honda.
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