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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Bangladesh seeks vaccine from Canada

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Dhaka has urged Canada to consider providing Covid-19 jabs to Bangladesh directly as well as through the COVAX initiative to help the country inoculate the Rohingya refugees and host communities.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen held a virtual meeting with Canadian Minister of International Development Karina Gould on Wednesday and made the request.

Canada has so far contributed 545 million dollars and 30 million surplus Covid vaccine doses to COVAX. The Canadian Minister is a co-chair in the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer.

Gould assured Momen that Canada would give due consideration to Bangladesh’s request to provide jabs, including for the displaced Rohingya Muslims and the host communities.

She also recalled that Canada has already provided medicine and oxygen concentrator support to Bangladesh through UNICEF and some NGOs, and said that such assistance, including vaccine support, may come again.

Informing that the government has already commenced vaccinating the refugees over 55 years numbering around 48,000, the Foreign Minister highlighted the fact that not a single Rohingya person in Bangladesh has so far died due to Covid.

Underscorimg the natural hazards that Kutupalong camps have been facing, Momen said the UN and the international community need to come forward to support the humanitarian operations in Bhashan Char as soon as possible.

The Bangladeshi Foreign Minister also thanked Canada for its consistent political and humanitarian support for the displaced and persecuted Rohingyas, including for the ongoing genocide case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Underscoring that the repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas remains the priority for Bangladesh and also of the refugees themselves, he urged Canada to take a leadership role in this regard.

Thanking for Canada’s political support to the ICJ case by Gambia on the alleged genocide against the Rohingyas, Momen requested Canada to come forward to assist Gambia through making financial support for the proceedings of the case.

In response to the Canadian Minister’s call for providing education to Rohingya children in Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said that the government also wants to provide education for them in the Myanmar curriculum.

Momen reiterated Bangladesh’s proposal that UNHCR can recruit teachers from Myanmar for this.

He underscored that if education, health and pathway to citizenship for the remaining Rohingyas in Rakhine State can be ensured by the UN by investing more resources there, “this would encourage the displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to return to their homeland”.

Momen also expressed concern that the lack of education and other rights for the Rohingyas may lead to radicalisation and extremism, and thus this is important to resolve the crisis at the earliest.

On her part, Gould reiterated Canada’s appreciation to Bangladesh’s generosity of hosting the persecuted and displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar.

Underscoring that the Rohingya issue remains a foreign policy priority for Canada, she said that her government has earmarked 288 million Canadian Dollars for the next three years for programmes related to the Rohingya issue.

Minister Gould, referring to Canada’s “Together for Learning” campaign, urged the Bangladesh government to facilitate education for the Rohingya children.

In response to Foreign Minister Momen’s statement that the Rohingyas may be taught in Myanmar curriculum, she hailed the idea as a good solution.

She also said that Canada will consider the possibility of Canada’s financial support for the ICJ case on the Rohingya refugees.

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