World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer today said the world needs to provide sustained support to Bangladesh to meet the urgent needs of the Rohingya people as well as the host community in Cox’s Bazar, as he concluded a weeklong visit to the country.
After visiting the Rohingya camps in the Cox’s Bazar district, including the Kutupalong camp that is the world’s largest and most congested refugee camp, Schafer praised the government and the people of Bangladesh for their generous efforts that saved thousands of lives as the Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar.
“Despite its own challenges, Bangladesh shelters nearly one million Rohingya, mostly women and children. Bangladesh has also ably coordinated humanitarian support and provided for basic needs. This helps prevent major disease outbreaks and natural disasters in the congested camps,” he said. “But the need is much larger. The World Bank has mobilized close to half a billion USD financing on grant terms to help Bangladesh deal with the crisis. The global community cannot afford to become distracted from this crisis and needs to provide more support.”
The World Bank approved the first two operations of a series that totaled $75 million in grants, including $13 million in grants from Canada. These include a $50 million grant to help the Rohingya, especially women and children, receive much-needed health services, and a $25 million grant to help Rohingya children access learning opportunities until their safe return to Myanmar. Through existing projects, the World Bank is helping the local population.
Walking through the Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, Schafer met Rohingya women, men and children and visited centers for transit, health and learning. He also met local administration, NGOs and development partners.
Today, he visited Ghorashal Power Plant, where the World Bank is helping improve efficiency and double electricity generation capacity.
“The World Bank is helping Bangladesh achieve its growth aspirations through addressing critical barriers to growth such as energy, transport, and urban development as well as investing in human capital,” Schafer said. “In the power sector we have a strong and expanding program encompassing generation, distribution, transmission as well as expansion in renewable energy. This helped add about 2,000 MW electricity to the national grid, and by the end of this year, another 475 MW will be added to the grid.”
In Dhaka, he participated in the launch of a World Bank report entitled “South Asia’s Hotspots: the impact of temperature and precipitations changes on living standards”. Making his first visit to Bangladesh as the World Bank Vice President for South Asia, he also met with the Finance Minister, the Water Recourse Minister and other senior government officials as well as with private sector and civil society representatives.
As Schafer concluded his visit to Bangladesh, he said: “Bangladesh has taken a leading role in reducing poverty, improving human development indicators, and disaster preparedness. Other countries can learn from the Bangladesh’s innovative development ideas. There is no reason why, with the right set of policies and timely actions, the country cannot become the next Asian Tiger. The World Bank is committed to support this journey.”
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed more than $29 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country.