Published:  04:27 PM, 06 November 2019

Global leadership, S Asian partners urged to act for quick return of Rohingyas

Global leadership, S Asian partners urged to act for quick return of Rohingyas

Bangladesh on Wednesday said the global leadership, especially South Asian partners, needs to do more to ensure quick repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar.

"It’s the responsibility of the global leadership, especially our South Asian partners, to do more to ensure their quick return to Myanmar," he said.

The Foreign Minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 15th Meeting of the Governing Council of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) at a city hotel.

Bangladesh has given shelter to forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar in 6,800 acres of forest land in Cox’s Bazar.

"It’s in an extremely vulnerable location. Their presence is affecting our ecosystem," Dr Momen said.

He said it is an issue solely between Myanmar and its own people and "they themselves have to resolve it".

He said the voluntary return of Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine State in safety, security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who have fled their homeland in Rakhine State after being persecuted by their own country.

Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years but Myanmar, in its attempts to “mislead” the international community, claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar “failed to remove trust deficit” among the Rohingyas and there was “lack of conducive environment” in Rakhine for their return.

Ecosystem and biodiversity

Dr Momen said protected and restored ecosystems and the biodiversity can help mitigate climate change and provide increased resilience in the face of mounting human pressures and natural disasters.

He said healthy ecosystems produce multiple benefits for communities that rely on them.

The SDGs focus on preserving and sustainably using the earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems.

He said achieving SDGs will critically depend on the availability of resources and rock solid political commitment.

"To achieve sustainable development goals by 2030, we need to strengthen our commitment to work collectively in partnership in mobilising resources, both finance and technology, and utilising available knowledge and information for mutual betterment," he said.

Climate challenge

The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh is facing a big challenge on climate change front and its vulnerability to climate change impacts is well evidenced and well documented.

He said Bangladesh, as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, has also become one of the most resilient countries.

“However, one metre rise in sea-level is likely to uproot nearly 30 million people of Bangladesh and climate vulnerability is costing nearly 1-3 percent of our annual GDP growth rate,” Dr Momen mentioned.

Despite being a developing country, Bangladesh spends more than 1 percent of its GDP in combating climate change.

“We’re pursuing a low-carbon development path with increasing emphasis on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation,” he said.

Dr Momen said Bangladesh is also “successfully” managing 6,00,000 hectares of Sundarbans Mangrove forest, a great carbon sink. “We’ve been engaged in creating resilient forests in offshore areas to protect forest-dependent communities and habitats of important forest biodiversity,” he noted.

The minister said the halting of the global climate change and reducing disaster risks will largely depend on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework to their true letter and spirit.

He said the recently adopted Global Compact for Migration has also acknowledged that investing in, and accelerating global cooperation for, climate change mitigation and adaptation would contribute to the elimination of the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin.

"Our active collaboration and cooperation will be very crucial for successful implementation of the SDGs as well as the Paris Climate Agreement," he said.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, Indian Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Keshav Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment, Republic of Maldives Ahmed Mujthaba, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Habibun Nahar, Director General, SACEP (South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme) Abas Basir, among others, were also present. 

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