“The world must not forget that it was Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s extraordinary courage, compassion and humanitarian decision to open up border and heart to more than 7,50,000 Rohingyas in 2017 that saved the world from witnessing a human catastrophe,” said State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Md Shahriar Alam MP while addressing the 22nd Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) held in London on March 15, 2023 chaired by Dr. Vincent Biruta, Foreign Minister of Rwanda.
Highlighting the serious ramifications of the prolonged stay of 1.2 million Myanmar Rohingyas for Bangladesh and the region, State Minister Alam categorically reiterated that the earliest repatriation of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas back to their ancestral homeland in Rakhine in safety and dignity remains Bangladesh’s compelling priority.
He lauded the Gambia for pursuing the ICJ case on the question of Myanmar’s accountability and commended Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK for joining the Gambia’s side.
In the context of declining foreign attention and assistance, Canada called on Commonwealth Nations to continue their support to the cause of Rohingyas until they are able to return to their rightful homes in Myanmar. Gambia appreciated the outstanding generosity of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for continued hosting of Rohingyas and urged more Commonwealth countries to join their side in the ICJ case highlighting the importance of accountability and repatriation issues for sustainable solution to this protracted crisis.
The United Kingdom stressed on the sustainable return of Rohingyas while the Commonwealth Nations expressed solidarity with Bangladesh on this gravest crisis.
As regards Bangladesh’s leadership in climate issues globally, Mr. Alam said that despite its own vulnerabilities, Bangladesh has emerged as a global leader in climate adaptation and established Global Centre for Adaption (GCA)’s South Asia hub in Dhaka to champion locally led adaptations. During Bangladesh’s Presidency of the 53-member Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Bangladesh held the first Commonwealth-CVF Climate Prosperity Dialogue at the COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. He also mentioned that Bangladesh spends 5 billion US$ annually on climate and has already launched a low-carbon transition strategy, namely “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan 2030”. Mr. Alam also offered to host the proposed Commonwealth Climate Conference in Bangladesh before the COP 28.
State Minister Alam also apprised the CFAMM that Bangladesh, as the Commonwealth Business-to-Business Connectivity Cluster Lead, organised two high-level B2B conferences creating institutional connectivity amongst top chambers and Trade Ministers from all 4 Commonwealth regions.
In his statement, Mr. Alam recommended that the Commonwealth must address the vulnerabilities of LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS, and countries with special needs at the 2024 WTO Ministerial, focusing on areas such as continuation of their trade-related GSPs beyond LDC graduation, private capital flows and flexible financing for green technology transfer.