As the warring sides in Europe and their allies are taking and calling for measures and counter-measures against each other, Sheikh Hasina has urged world leaders to stop the conflict.
In her address to the 77th United Nations General Assembly at the global body’s headquarters in New York on Friday, the Bangladesh prime minister called for steps to ensure food security and build peace.
She highlighted the perils of people, especially women and children in developing and poor nations, due to the Russia-Ukraine war and sanctions and counter-sanctions.
“We believe that antagonism like war or economic sanctions, counter-sanctions can never bring good to any nation. Dialogue is the best way to resolve crises and disputes.”
She thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for setting up the Global Crisis Response Group. “As a champion of this group, I am working with other world leaders to determine a global solution commensurate with the gravity and depth of the current situation.”
Describing the achievements of Bangladesh’s economy, Hasina said it is now one of the five fastest growing economies in the world and the 41st in terms of GDP.
Before the pandemic, the country’s GDP growth rate in FY 2018-19 was 8.15 percent. Earlier, it achieved GDP growth of over 7 percent for three consecutive years. Even amidst the pandemic, the economy of Bangladesh expanded by 6.94 percent in the fiscal year 2020-21.
“However, as a result of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, economic sanctions and counter-sanctions, there has been a supply chain disruption and exorbitant price hike of fuel, food and consumer goods,” the prime minister said.
“This has brought the economy like ours under tremendous pressure. Inflation has increased. We are taking various initiatives to overcome this situation.”
Hasina said Bangladesh was interested in looking for transformative solutions to poverty alleviation, mitigating climate change effects, preventing conflicts and finance, energy and fuel crises that the world is grappling with now.
“However, we need to understand the fact that socio-economic development cannot be achieved without ensuring peace and stability.
“We want the end of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. In punishing one country with sanctions, counter-sanctions, the entire world including women and children are being punished. Its impact is not limited to a country, rather puts the lives and livelihoods of the people in greater risk, infringe their human rights; people are deprived of food, shelter, healthcare and education.
“Children suffer the most in particular. Their future is lost in darkness.
“My urge to the conscience of the world community- stop the arms race, war, and sanctions, Ensure food and security of the children; Build peace.
“We want to see a peaceful world with enhanced cooperation and solidarity, shared prosperity and collective actions. We share one planet, and we owe it to our future generations to leave it in a better shape.”
Hasina said Bangladesh is fully committed to protecting and promoting the human rights of its own people as a responsible member state of the UN. “We have adopted a holistic and inclusive approach to ensure the political, economic, cultural and social rights of the people. As an example, we have enacted necessary legal provision to provide necessary rights and welfare of transgender people.”
Hasina said August marked five years of the 2017 mass exodus of the Rohingya into Bangladesh from their home country Myanmar.
“Not a single Rohingya was repatriated to their ancestral home Myanmar, despite our bilateral engagements with Myanmar, discussions with partners in trilateral format and engagements with the UN and other partners to assist Myanmar to create necessary conditions for safe and dignified repatriation,” she remarked.
The ongoing political turmoil and armed conflicts in Myanmar have made the repatriation of the displaced Rohingya more difficult, she said, expressing hope that the United Nations will play an effective role in solving the Rohingya crisis.
Hasina said prolonged presence of the Rohingya in Bangladesh has caused serious ramifications on the economy, environment, security, and socio-political stability in Bangladesh.
“Uncertainty over repatriation has led to widespread frustration. Cross-border organised crimes, including human and drug trafficking, are on the rise.
This situation can potentially fuel radicalisation. If the problem persists further, it may affect the security and stability of the entire region, and beyond.”
Hasina described the impact of climate change as “one of the biggest threats to humankind”.
“In the past, we have seen a vicious cycle of promises being made and broken. We must now change this course.”
In Bangladesh, the prime minister said, her government has taken many transformative measures to tackle perilous impacts of climate change consistent with implementing the Paris Agreement and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
During Bangladesh’s presidency of Climate Vulnerable Forum, the government launched ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan’, which aims to put Bangladesh on a sustainable trajectory from “one of vulnerability to resilience to climate prosperity”.
“Our national plans and policies on climate change and natural disaster are gender responsive and take into account the critical role of women in adaptation and mitigation.
“We are ready to support other vulnerable countries to develop their own prosperity plans. I call on world leaders to promote inclusive climate action.”