The United Nations has assured Bangladesh to extend all-out support to address the challenges, including the COVID-19 recovery, climate change and smooth graduation from the LDC bracket.
“The United Nations family is with all people in Bangladesh to address these challenges, from our support to 165 million Bangladeshis,” UN Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo said on Sunday.
Speaking at the “DCAB Talk” organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) at the Foreign Service Academy, Mia Seppo said LDC graduation will bring many opportunities for Bangladesh, but will prove unsustainable if the country cannot address emerging challenges associated with the pandemic impact such as income inequality, gender-based violence, climate vulnerability, and a high prevalence of informality in the labour market.
DCAB President Pantho Rahaman and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the “DCAB Talk” where UNRC Mia Seppo also shared UN views on Rohingya and Afghanistan crises, issues related to Bhasan Char, climate change, sustainable and inclusive Covid recovery, Digital Security Act (DSA), gender issues and cooperation framework.
In developing the UNSDCF, she said five Strategic Priorities were identified as pillars where the UN system will concentrate – an economic, a social, an environmental, a governance and a gender equality pillar.
The UN Resident Coordinator heartily welcomed the government decision to reopen the schools effective on September 12. “The UN stands by Bangladesh to ensure that the schools remain open and all children in Bangladesh can continue their education journey safely and uninterrupted.”
To this end, she said development partners including the UN worked closely with the concerned government partners to develop the safe school reopening guidelines which will focus on making up for learning lost and taking proactive measured to get marganalised children back into school.
Mia Seppo said the journalists have the responsibility to bring out truth, spread science-based facts that save lives, protect people and ensure rights. “That’s the power of your pen. Use that power as a force for good.”
She said reports from journalists can help educate and clarify perceptions; as well as reconcile people and inspire patriotism. “You possess great potential to reinforce and create conditions that enable a more tolerant, just, peaceful and inclusive coexistence.”
The UN chief in Bangladesh laid emphasis on enhancing capacities in conflict-sensitive reporting and play a more active and prominent role in driving media excellence and conflict-sensitive reporting for sustainable peace.
She said there is no development without peace and no peace without development; and sustaining peace is a continuous process. National and social cohesion must be sensitively managed to strengthen relationships of trust among Bangladeshis.
Media’s action and reporting can engender either social cohesion or mistrust and divisions among communities and people. “Media reports can give a rise to resentment, suspicion and conspiracy theories, she added.
On Digital Security Act (DSA), she said the UN is in talks with the concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Law to review and stop its misuse. The UN resident coordinator also conveyed the global organisation's concern over signs of shrinking civic space, growing inequality and violence against women in Bangladesh.
On a question about Bhashan Cha, she told reporters that the UN is at the final stages of starting operations for the Rohingyas in Bhashan Char. The UN is already in talks with Bangladeshi NGOs working in Bhashan Char on how to work effectively there.
Mia Seppo said the Bangladesh government has made huge investments in Bhashan Char to make it a livable place, but there was, rather, negative publicity.
On another question, she said the proposal from the World Bank regarding Rohingyas in Bangladesh has been misunderstood.
"The solution to the Rohingya refugee situation lies with Myanmar," she said adding “the most viable, durable solution is the voluntary repatriation of refugees in safety, dignity and sustainability.”
Responding to another question, she said the UN will provide electoral assistance to Bangladesh only if there is any request on that particular front. “The UN stands ready to support under the framework of cooperation if there is any request forthcoming.”