Refugee Crisis: WB mission assessing need for aid
A World Bank team is doing a need assessment to help Dhaka deal with the Rohingya crisis that is already putting a tremendous pressure on Bangladesh.
A six-member mission led by Sanjay Srivastava, programme leader of WB's Sustainable Development, and Tekabe Belay, programme leader of its Human Development, has arrived in Dhaka on Saturday on a 14-day visit to do the evaluation.
The team went to Cox's Bazar, where some 1 million Rohingya people are sheltered, on a four-day visit yesterday.
After returning to Dhaka, the team will sit with officials from relief and disaster management, education, home and health ministries as well as local government engineering department.
Among others, they will hold talks with Abul Kalam Azad, principal coordinator for SDGs at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), and Kazi Shofiqul Azam, secretary of the Economic Relations Division.
On the basis of the discussions, the WB will prepare a draft aid memoire, an official of the finance ministry said.
If the negotiations are fruitful, Bangladesh will receive around $300 million from the newly created WB refugee window fund, which allocated $600 million for the South Asia region, the official added.
After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's approval on October 15, Bangladesh formally sought assistance from the WB to handle the refugee crisis.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith has already said the crisis would put a huge pressure on the budgetary measures.
A WB document, which outlines the criteria to be eligible for the assistance, does not say Bangladesh has to formally declare the Rohingya as refugees.
However, Dhaka has to meet three major criteria to get the fund.
"A country would be eligible if the number of UNHCR-registered refugees, including persons in refugee-like situations, it hosts is at least 25,000 or it is at least 0.1 percent of the country's population," according the document.
In addition, it would need to have in place an action plan, strategy or similar document that describes concrete steps, including possible policy reforms that the country will undertake towards long-term solutions that benefit refugees and host communities, consistent with the overall purpose of the Bank's refugee window.
The decision of assistance will also be based on quantitative and qualitative analyses on the impact of refugee flows at the country or regional level.
For example, fiscal burden on host governments or potential for increased instability could be considered, the document read.
The fund would support projects 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.
Since violence broke out in Myanmar on August 25, at least 6,00,000 Rohingya people, according to the UN -- about 60 percent of them children -- have crossed into Bangladesh to join nearly 400,000 of their fellow countrymen who fled violence in Myanmar in phases over the years.
After a meeting with Muhith at the WB headquarters in Washington on October 12, the global lender in a statement said it was ready to move with a programme of support for Bangladesh government, host communities, and the Rohingya refugees.
After the meeting, the finance minister told reporters that Bangladesh was going to seek assistance formally from the Bank for about 10 lakh forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
"We have not specified any amount but have appealed for help and will get the maximum they can spare," he said, adding that 50 percent of the amount would likely to be in grant.
Muhith said Bangladesh needed about $2 billion for the Rohingya refugees but only $600 million was allocated for the region from the fund.