World Bank and ADB Support to Cope with Rohingya Crisis Must be as Grant, not Loan: TIB

Staff Reporter, Dhaka

4 December 2023: Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) expressed deep concern today about the apparent decision by the Bangladesh government to seek one billion dollars from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to cope with the Rohingya refugee crisis, of which $535 million is in loans, while the remaining $465 million is in grants. TIB has called upon the Government to negotiate with World Bank and ADB to secure grant instead of loan and urges the international community to ensure fair and equitable sharing of the burdens for this persecution-led humanitarian crisis.  

TIB believes that this is not a fair, wise or sustainable approach to cope with a persecution-driven humanitarian crisis that requires collective international action by ensuring that is not unjust to the host country. Bangladesh has already done more than its fair share over the years in hosting and supporting over a million Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar. Just because Bangladesh opened its borders to host the persecuted Rohingyas, nothing can justify that it will have to endlessly shoulder additional financial burdens which must be borne by collective efforts of the international community. It is doubly disturbing that the decision to seek loan comes at a time when Bangladesh has been struggling hard to cope with its own economic challenges.

“We urge the Government to reconsider this move and to engage in dialogue with the international community to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the costs involved,” said Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of TIB. “We also call upon the World Bank and the ADB to offer their support as grants, not loans. Supporting Bangladesh’s efforts to manage the enormous challenges caused by the Rohingya crisis is an opportunity for organisations like World Bank and ADB to demonstrate that their mission is not limited to indiscriminate loan business.”

TIB is particularly concerned about the trend of decreasing international grants for the dsplaced Rohingyas, which it sees as a sign that the international community is cowardly shrugging off their responsibility   and leaving Bangladesh to bear the brunt of the burden almost all by itself. The recent decline in donor support has resulted in a drastic and highly insensitive reduction in per capita food assistance from $12 to $8 per month.

“The global community, particularly countries with multi-dimensional stakes, interests and leverage in Myanmar, must do more to support Bangladesh in addressing the Rohingya refugee crisis,” said Dr. Iftekharuzzaman. “This includes providing more humanitarian assistance, working towards a durable solution for the safe and voluntary return of the displaced Rohingya people sheltered in Bangladesh, and holding Myanmar accountable for its crimes against humanity.”

TIB also calls on the United Nations and its relevant agencies to play a more active role in coordinating the international response to the Rohingya refugee crisis.  Iftekharuzzaman said, “The UN must also work to address the root causes of the crisis behind the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The Rohingya people have suffered enough, and they deserve a life of dignity and security. Bangladesh on its part has been already way overburdened by economic, social, environmental and security challenges caused by the crisis caused by genocidal persecution of Rohingyas. Leaving it to Bangladesh now to cope with it by taking loan is no less unfair and despicable’.