Bangladesh accepts 2 World Bank projects to improve refugee lives

The projects worth $700 million are aimed at improving the quality of life of Rohingya refugees.
By Kamran Reza Chowdhury for BenarNews
Bangladesh accepts 2 World Bank projects to improve refugee lives Rohingya refugees rest inside a tent in Kwala Langkat Village, in Langkat, North Sumatra, on May 23, 2024, a day after dozens of Rohingya refugee adults and children arrived by boat.

In addition to loans and grants from the World Bank, the Bangladesh authority has approved two projects worth $700 million to improve the quality of life of Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar and the host community people of the southeast district.

“The Bangladesh government has taken such a loan from the World Bank for the Rohingya refugees for the first time since providing shelter to about one million Rohingya refugees,” said Md. Hasan Sarwar of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

The two projects were passed in the Executive Committee meeting of the National Economic Council held at the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the day, he told BenarNews on Tuesday.

State Minister for Planning Shahiduzzaman Sarker said some projects will be implemented with loans and some with grants.

“Under these two projects we will use the money from the donation to improve the quality of life of the Rohingya people while the amount of loan will be used for the host community,” he said.

Gov’t plans to improve camp life

According to project documents obtained by BenarNews, the two projects will be implemented between June 2024 and June 2028.

The first project related to infrastructure construction is called “Host and Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals/Displaced Rohingya Population Enhancement of Lives through a Multisectoral Approach Project.”

Rohingya refugees rest at a Rohingya refugee camp, May 24, 2024, in Ukhia in Bangladesh’s southeastern Cox’s Bazar district. (AFP)

The total cost of the project is around $350 million, including $200 million in loans and $126 million in grants. The government will bear about $23.5 million, the document showed.

Under the project, road construction and development, installation of an eight-megawatt solar power plant and construction of distribution infrastructure, an increase of safe water supply and sanitation facilities, construction of climate resilient infrastructure, environmental impact and damage assessment will be implemented.

The cost of another project titled “Inclusive Services and Opportunities for Host Communities and Displaced Rohingya Population Project” is estimated to be more than $374 million, including a loan of $182 million from the World Bank and a grant of $150 million.

Regarding the necessity of the second project, the proposal said that since 2017 Myanmar citizens have been infiltrating Bangladesh at various times, causing a humanitarian crisis in every district of Chittagong Division, including Cox’s Bazar, while the socio-economic conditions in those areas have had a negative impact.

Despite various humanitarian assistance, the Rohingya refugees are still facing acute crises in education, health, food security, nutritional needs, and violence and insecurity.

In recent years, humanitarian aid from various development aid agencies has gradually decreased.

Rohingya refugees look through the debris of their houses charred by a fire at the Ukhia camp in Cox’s Bazar, May 24, 2024. (AFP)

According to the project document, Chittagong, Bandarban, Rangamati, Noakhali and Cox’s Bazar districts are comparatively far behind in various indicators including health and nutrition.

“On the other hand, crimes such as gender-based violence, human trafficking, child marriage, polygamy and sexual harassment have increased among local residents since the Rohingya infiltration. There is a possibility of creating a critical situation between the local residents and the Rohingya refugees,” the document stated.

Humayun Kabir, president of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, told BenarNews that the critical situation can be avoided if the projects are implemented.

“If the livelihood of the locals is damaged because of the Rohingya refugees, there will be a conflict at one stage, which will not be good for anyone,” he added.

Muhammed Jubair, acting chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, told BenarNews, “The Rohingya fled Myanmar to save their lives but expected to return in a short time. Seven years have already passed.”

“Relief for the Rohingya people has decreased in recent years. This grant from the World Bank will alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya refugees to some extent,” he observed.

Translated by Ahammad Foyez. BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated online news organization.


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