Dealing with Refugees: WB offers to help Dhaka | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 14, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:52 AM, September 14, 2017

Dealing with Refugees: WB offers to help Dhaka

The World Bank is ready to lend a helping hand to Bangladesh in dealing with Rohingyas who have recently entered the country in huge numbers putting pressure on its economy and social structure.

It has allocated $2 billion for those seeking refuge in different corners of the globe in the first-ever move of such kind, of which any nation can get a maximum share of $400 million.

The WB already communicated the fund's availability to the government that will now decide whether to ask for the financial assistance upon considering the conditions attached to it. 

A finance ministry official said that if the disaster management ministry or home ministry comes up with a proposal, they will forward it to the WB.

Shah Kamal, secretary to the disaster management and relief ministry, told The Daily Star that they had already contacted the WB and asked it to clarify what mode of assistance it will be; if it is grant the government will take it, but if it is loan the ministry will have reservation about accepting this. 

In a document the WB said, “The purpose of the fund is to help refugee host communities to mitigate shocks, facilitate sustainable solutions, and strengthen preparedness.”

To get the financial assistance, IDA countries meaning those who get loans from the International Development Association, WB's concessionary arm, must host more than 25,000 refugees or more than 0.1 percent of the population, have adequate refugee protection framework and action plans.

In case programmes target only refugees, 100 percent grant can be considered case by case.  But if they involve peripheral issues as well, a small portion of the fund will be given in loan.

As per the purpose outlined by the WB, the fund for refugees would support projects in host countries that focus on the medium to longer term developmental needs of refugees and host communities, not humanitarian needs that are the mandate of other organisations.

Priority initiatives would include projects that promote refugees' welfare and inclusion in the host country's socio-economic structures.

The fund will also support legal solutions and policy reforms with regard to refugees, for example, freedom of their movement, formal labour force participation, identification documents and residency permits.

It will help ensure refugees' and host communities' access to quality services and basic infrastructure, support the host population whose livelihood is negatively affected by the refugees' presence, and support policy dialogue and activities to ensure refugees return to their country of origin.

The fund is also intended to strengthen the government finances that have been strained for expenditures related to hosting responsibilities.

About 34,000 officially registered Rohingya refugees are staying in Bangladesh. Besides, after the recent crackdown on the Rohingya community in Myanmar's Rakhine state by its army, as many as 3 lakh Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh.

The number of Rohingyas -- registered and otherwise -- living in the country has reached 7 lakh. The government has already allocated 2,000 acres of land in Cox's Bazar for Rohingya camps. It has also taken steps for the refugees' biometric registration.

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