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PM Hasina: UNGA discussion will help continue international pressure for Rohingya repatriation

  • Published at 11:40 am October 4th, 2021
Sheikh Hasina - United Nations

She hopes Bangladesh delegation's participation in the session would strengthen Dhaka's position in the multilateral forum

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said international pressure on Myanmar would continue for a permanent solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis as the issue was widely discussed in the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session.

She said: "The issue of the Rohingya crisis and its permanent solution was discussed elaborately in the UNGA session which I believe will help to continue global pressure on Myanmar for bringing back their Rohingya nationals from Bangladesh."

The premier said this in a written statement while briefing newsmen about the outcome of Bangladesh's participation in the 76th UNGA session.

She hoped that the participation of the Bangladesh delegation in the session would strengthen Dhaka's position in the multilateral forum and expand the scope of getting international cooperation to the issues involving Bangladesh's interest.

Sheikh Hasina said she went to New York to attend the 76th UNGA in person, and it was her maiden foreign tour since the Covid-19 outbreak.

She said: "I was busy during my stay in New York and joined 10 meetings, including the main session of the 76th UNGA and eight bilateral talks. I also took part in the inaugural day of the general debate."  

Also Read- PM returns home after attending 76th UNGA

The foreign minister, state minister for foreign affairs, lawmakers, and high-level government officials accompanied her, she added.

The prime minister said that she later went to Washington DC from New York.

She said that she also inaugurated “Bangladesh House” in Maryland, US to carry on the memory of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

'UNGA focused on sustainable transition from pandemic'

Sheikh Hasina said the main focus of this UNGA session was a sustainable transition from the pandemic, pinpointing expectations in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said the universal accessibility and availability of Covid-19 vaccines and sustainable recovery from the pandemic have naturally dominated the discussion.

Besides, issues like climate change, women's empowerment, equality and inclusion, racism, sustainable development goals, disarmament of nuclear weapons etc have also come up in the discussion, the premier added.

Ministers, officials, and Awami league leaders welcome Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she returns home after two weeks at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on October 1, 2021 | CourtesySheikh Hasina said in the very first day of her visit on September 20 she was conferred with “SDG Progress Award” by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) for Bangladesh's highest success in attaining SDG during 2015-20.

She said: “SDSN President and renowned economist Professor Jeffery Sachs handed over the award to her.

“This award is a global recognition of Bangladesh's steadfast development even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that's why I dedicated this award to the people of the country in my thanksgiving speech.”

Also Read- Officials: Bangladesh’s UNGA participation shows its stronger presence in multilateral forum

She said the special attraction of this visit was setting up a “Permanent Bench” and planting a centenary tree sapling at the UN headquarters on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

She said: “It is notable that this is the first such initiative to pay homage to any political leader on the premises of the UN headquarters, which is undoubtedly a rare honour for Bangladesh.”

The Prime Minister said on September 24 that she addressed the general debate of UNGA where she spoke in Bengali this time too like every time.

"In my speech, I’ve emphasized ensuring universal and affordable availability of Covid-19 vaccines in order to build a corona virus free world, and simultaneously urged the world leaders to consider Covid-19 vaccine as a 'global asset' in eliminating vaccine inequality,” she added.

'Developed countries must reduce carbon emission'

The prime minister said she also urged the rich countries to finance and transfer technology freely for sustainable adaptation to the countries at risk of climate change for reducing their damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as decreasing the carbon emissions of rich and industrialized countries and providing compensation.   

As the President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and Vulnerable-20 Group of Ministers of Finance, the premier said, she briefed world leaders on the activities of Bangladesh's Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan-Decade 2030.

Also Read- When 3 Bangladeshi women took center stage at UNGA

"I also call upon the United Nations to ensure partnerships and the necessary resources to address the damage caused by the ongoing pandemic and to invest in digital equipment and services, access to the internet as well as raise teachers' skills for the sustainable recovery.”

Highlighting Bangladesh's success in coming out of the list of least developed countries (LDCs), Sheikh Hasina said she proposed to formulate an "incentive-based transit framework" for the development partners.  

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the Bangladesh Secretariat via video conference from Ganobhaban and presided over the cabinet meeting, on Monday, October 4, 2021 PID"We urge the countries that receive migrants to ensure justified rights of migrants, their employment, health and welfare,” she said.

Regarding the Rohingya crisis, the premier once again reminded the world leaders that the cause of the Rohingya crisis is in Myanmar, and the solution also lies in Myanmar.

Calling upon the international community to take constructive steps in this regard, she noted, "Only a safe, sustainable and dignified repatriation (of Rohingyas) to their homeland in Rakhine State can be a permanent solution to this crisis.”

Ahead of COP26, she said one of the topics of this year's UNGA debate was to tackle climate change and its adverse impacts.

Sheikh Hasina said a closed-door meeting was held on September 20 at the joint initiative of the UN secretary general and the prime minister of the United Kingdom with the participation of the heads of state and government of several countries who are vocal about climate change.   

The Prime Minister said she was invited to the conference as one of the most vocal world leaders about climate change and the president of the CVF.

Taking part in this conference, she said she spoke in favour of new financial management to address the risks of climate change and the free transfer of green technology to climate-risk-prone countries.

“We’ve also called on the international community to play an effective role in rehabilitating people displaced by climate change.”

'We need more female leaders'

On September 21, at the invitation of Abdullah Shahid, president of the 76th UNGA Session, Sheikh Hasina said she attended a high-level meeting with the participation of women leaders from around the world. 

In addition to her, the leaders of Norway, Moldova, Estonia, Tanzania, Barbados and the European Commission participated in this event, she said. 

"During the meeting, I’ve highlighted the contribution of women to the economy and health sectors of Bangladesh.

I’ve also emphasized the necessity to build grassroots leadership and ensure the political and financial benefits of women-led organizations.”

Also Read- 76th UNGA session starts, president calls on member states to embrace hope

Sheikh Hasina said that she also joined a roundtable meeting on September 21, organized by US-Bangladesh Business Council where high-level representatives from various famous US organizations, including Chevron, General Electric and MetLife participated. 

General view of the United Nations Security Council meeting during the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US September 23, 2021 | ReutersIn her keynote speech at the event, she highlighted the existing investment opportunities in Bangladesh and urged US businessmen to make investments in Bangladesh. 

On the sideline of the UN General Assembly, at the invitation of US President Joe Biden, on September 22, the prime minister attended a high-level meeting on Covid-19 where she outlined the steps and achievements of the government of Bangladesh in tackling the ongoing pandemic.

High-level meeting on Rohingyas

Besides, on September 22, a high-level meeting on the Rohingya issue organized by the European Union, United Kingdom, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, OIC, Turkey, Indonesia, Gambia and Bangladesh was held on the sideline of the UNGA where Sheikh Hasina delivered the keynote speech. 

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Gambia, Indonesia and Hungary, the Minister of State for South Asian Affairs of the United Kingdom, as well as high-level representatives from various countries including the United States, India, the Netherlands, France and Germany and special envoy of Asean also spoke at the event, she said.

Also Read- Bangla in UNGA: Continuation of legacy from father to daughter

Mentioning that the Rohingya crisis is the creation of Myanmar and its solution also depends on Myanmar, the premier urged all participating leaders to emphasize on few issues and those are as follows:

- Prioritizing the repatriation highest, all activities have to be conducted for this purpose.

- To find out a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis through repatriation despite the changed political situation in Myanmar.

- ASEAN countries should play an effective role in creating a favourable environment for the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

- Take and implement effective measures and projects to create a favourable environment for the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar by the UN and development partners.

- To co-operate in the ongoing process in ICJ and other international organizations to ensure justice for the violence and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. 

On September 23, the prime minister attended a high-level meeting on equality and inclusion at the invitation of the Presidents of Spain, Costa Rica and Sierra Leone, and the prime minister of Sweden.

She laid emphasis on the elimination of vaccine and digital inequality and special funding for least developed and climate-risk countries. 

She said that in the context of Covid-19 and climate change, the issue of ensuring food security for the world is also prominent in this session. 

Sheikh Hasina participated at a high-level meeting on "United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021" on September 23 where she highlighted Bangladesh's success in achieving food security.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, left, flanked by Foreign Minister Abdul Momen, right, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, at the UNGA in New York on September 21, 2021 | PMO"We also call for the creation of a special fund for transfer of technology in tackling the impacts of climate change and ensuring sustainable food security," she added.

On the sidelines

The prime minister said she had participated in several bilateral meetings on the sidelines during the UNGA session. She held meetings with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottle, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and Queen of the Netherlands Maxima, UN Secretary General António Guterres, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Taking part in all these bilateral meetings, she discussed various issues of mutual interest as well as sought the attention and cooperation of the international community in resolving the Rohingya crisis.

In addition, during her visit to New York, on September 24, she participated virtually in a reception organized by expatriate Bangladeshis living in the US. At the same time, she also spoke at the press conference.

Sheikh Hasina said the key issues of this year's UNGA session were particularly relevant to Bangladesh, especially Bangladesh's participation in the summits regarding universal availability of the Covid-19 vaccine and its sustainable recovery from the pandemic was very important.

In addition, as one of the most vulnerable countries of climate change and as the president of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, she said: “We have made our demands strongly by participating in climate-related meetings.”

Besides, the prime minister also presented the progress of Bangladesh in women empowerment in the world court which has been widely appreciated in all quarters.

She said the issue of Rohingyas and its permanent solution was discussed extensively in this UNGA session, which she hopes will continue the international pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas.

“I am hopeful that the active participation of the Bangladesh delegation in the 76th Session will strengthen Bangladesh's position in the Multilateral Forum and expand the scope of international cooperation in Bangladesh's interest,” she noted.

The prime minister said that she later went to Washington DC from New York on September 25.

She said that she also inaugurated “Bangladesh House” in Maryland and planted a tree on September 29 that carries the memory of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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