Bangladesh is hosting more than one million Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority community who are stateless, most of whom fled following a wave of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017.
“More than three years have elapsed. Regrettably, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated. The problem was created by Myanmar, and its solution must be found in Myanmar. I request the international community to play a more effective role for a solution to the crisis,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly on Saturday.
The annual gathering of Heads of State and Government in the iconic General Assembly Hall is being held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stimulus packages and safety nets
Like many of her counterparts, Prime Minister Hasina outlined steps her Government has taken to address the crisis and mitigate its impacts.
Although COVID-19 has impeded economic progress in Bangladesh, she said the authorities implemented initiatives which prioritized both lives and livelihoods, such as introducing some $13.25 billion in stimulus packages for industries, and expanding social safety nets.
“We have readily arranged food and other assistance for people who are rendered jobless due to COVID-19. This arrangement has benefitted nearly 10 million families. We have provided scholarships to four million students. We have also given cash incentives to five million people, including farmers, workers and labourers affected by the pandemic,” she said.
“To ensure healthcare of the common people, we are providing 30 types of medicines free of cost through 18,000 community clinics and union health centres,” she continued, noting that overall, the pandemic’s impact has been minimal due to the various interventions.