Bangladesh accepts 2 World Bank projects to improve refugee lives

The projects valued at $700 million are aimed at improving the quality of life for Rohingya.
Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Bangladesh accepts 2 World Bank projects to improve refugee lives Rohingya rest inside a tent in Kwala Langkat Village, Indonesia, a day after dozens of the refugees arrived by boat, May 23, 2024.

The Bangladesh authority has approved two projects valued $700 million to improve the quality of life for Rohingya living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and the southern district host community through loans and grants from the World Bank.

“The Bangladesh government has taken such a loan from the World Bank for the Rohingya refugees for the first time since providing shelter to about 1 million Rohingya,” said Md. Hasan Sarwar of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

The two projects were passed during the executive committee meeting of the National Economic Council, he told BenarNews on Tuesday.

State Minister for Planning Shahiduzzaman Sarker said the projects will be implemented using loans and grants.

“Under these two projects we will use the money from the donation to improve the quality of life of the Rohingya people while the amount of loan will be used for the host community,” he said.

Gov’t plans to improve camp life

The two projects will be implemented between June 2024 and June 2028, according to documents obtained by BenarNews.

The first project related to infrastructure construction is called “Host and Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals/Displaced Rohingya Population Enhancement of Lives through a Multisectoral Approach Project.”

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Rohingya rest at a refugee camp in Ukhia, southeastern Cox’s Bazar district, May 24, 2024. [AFP]

The total cost of the project is around $350 million, including $200 million in loans and $126 million in grants. The government will bear about $23.5 million, the document showed.

Under the project, road construction and development, installation of an eight-megawatt solar power plant and construction of distribution infrastructure, an increase of safe water supply and sanitation facilities, construction of climate resilient infrastructure, environmental impact and damage assessment will be implemented.

The cost of another project titled “Inclusive Services and Opportunities for Host Communities and Displaced Rohingya Population Project” is estimated to be more than $374 million, including a loan of $182 million from the World Bank and a grant of $150 million.

Regarding the necessity of the second project, the proposal said that since 2017, Myanmar citizens have been infiltrating Bangladesh, causing a humanitarian crisis in every district of Chittagong Division, including Cox’s Bazar, while the socio-economic conditions in those areas have had a negative impact.

About 740,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to the Cox’s Bazar camps following an August 2017 military crackdown – pushing the number of refugees in the camps to about 1 million.

Despite humanitarian assistance, the Rohingya face acute crises in education, health, food security, nutritional needs, and violence and insecurity, according to aid groups.

In recent years, humanitarian aid from development aid agencies has gradually decreased.

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Rohingya look through the debris of their houses charred by a fire at the Ukhia camp in Cox’s Bazar, May 24, 2024. [AFP]

According to the project document, Chittagong, Bandarban, Rangamati, Noakhali and Cox’s Bazar districts are comparatively far behind in various indicators including health and nutrition.

“On the other hand, crimes such as gender-based violence, human trafficking, child marriage, polygamy and sexual harassment have increased among local residents since the Rohingya infiltration. There is a possibility of creating a critical situation between the local residents and the Rohingya,” the document said.

Humayun Kabir, president of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, told BenarNews that the critical situation can be avoided if the projects are implemented.

“If the livelihood of the locals is damaged because of the Rohingya refugees, there will be a conflict at one stage, which will not be good for anyone,” he said.

Muhammed Jubair, acting chairman of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, told BenarNews, “The Rohingya fled Myanmar to save their lives but expected to return in a short time. Seven years have already passed.”

“Relief for the Rohingya people has decreased in recent years. This grant from the World Bank will alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya refugees to some extent,” he said.


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