Cox’s Bazar’s biodiversity at risk; 4300 acres of hills, forests cut down
The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has provided us with an appropriate report, which is very clear in its findings. We have also seen the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court’s finding that the Court has jurisdiction over the deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar, and possibly other crimes.
This is, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, an immensely important step towards ending impunity, and addressing the enormous suffering of the Rohingya people.
Bangladesh is internationally commended for hosting so many Rohingyas despite having its own challenges. Some 4300 acres of hills and forests, according to UN agencies, were cut down to make temporary shelters for Rohingyas and ensure facilities and cooking fuel for them in Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar threatening the biodiversity of the ecologically critical areas of the country.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women with the support from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change jointly carried out a study titled ‘Environmental Impact of Rohingya Influx which says some of the key impacts are likely to become irreversible if measures are not taken immediately.
Since the influx in August 2017, coupled with the host community and Rohingyas from past influxes, the crisis-hit population is now almost 1.5 million in Cox’s Bazar, creating a massive pressure on the already dilapidated environment there which still remains significantly underfunded, according to the report.
The Rohingya issue, among other pressing global concerns, will come up prominently in the upcoming 73rd UN General Assembly for the second consecutive year as a number of countries, including Bangladesh, will raise it seeking a sustainable solution to the crisis.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in the 72nd UNGA, placed a five-point specific proposal to ensure the sustainable return of all the forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar which was appreciated by the international community.
Bangladesh is likely to place fresh proposals at the UNGA seeking a stronger role from the international community so that Myanmar acts and takes Rohingyas back from Bangladesh.
Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, OIC Member States and other countries are also preparing to take up the issue seeking an early solution, said the source.
Bangladesh has requested Member States of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to include their support for Rohingya issue in their engagements during the forthcoming UN General Assembly.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam made the request when a 16-member delegation of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) visited Bangladesh recently.
The delegation, comprising of MPs from seven member states of the PUIC, namely Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan and Turkey also visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.
US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat has already met Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and made it clear that the US will highlight the Rohingya crisis, among others, in the upcoming UNGA, said an official.
The Australian government welcomed the release of the summary report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar that concluded that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide have occurred in Rakhine State and recommended actions to pursue accountability for the atrocities detailed in the report.
“We’ll continue to work internationally to this end, including through our position on the Human Rights Council, and at the UN General Assembly,” said the Australian High Commission in Dhaka.
Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq said they still believe that there is much more that needs to be done in order to have conducive conditions for the return of the Rohingya to Rakhine State and other parts of Myanmar.
But at this stage, he said, they are following up and making sure that the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the government of Myanmar on one hand and UNDP is implemented.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave for New York on September 21 or September 22 to attend and deliver a speech in the UNGA.
Heads of state or government, members of their parties and other delegations, observers or individual members will attend it.
Bangladesh will also highlight the progress made so far, impressive economic growth and challenges related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate change in the UNGA.
The general debate of the seventy-third session will be held from September25 to October 1, an official told Dhaka Courier.
The high-profile meeting to be known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit will be held on September 24.
The high-level plenary meeting convened by the President of the General Assembly to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will be held on September 26.
The Secretary-General will convene a high-level meeting on financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on September 24.
The event will encourage high-level political impetus for financing the Sustainable Development Goals and inspire action by all development partners.
The Secretary General will open the event and deliver a keynote address, followed by remarks by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, an opening panel comprising heads of state or government, and two subsequent panels featuring high-level representatives, leading investors, financial technology innovators and philanthropists, and other invited speakers.
The objectives of the event are: (a) to launch the Secretary-General’s strategy for financing the 2030 Agenda; (b) to take stock of efforts by different stakeholders to operationalise the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; and (c) to build momentum around key actions and initiatives by national Governments, businesses and the international community that have high potential to accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.