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Tackling pandemic, war: Act fast, act in unison

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday put forward five proposals to strengthen regional cooperation against the backdrop of the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war.

“I would like to propose [five] steps that ESCAP may take into account as the Russia-Ukraine war must be stopped immediately and joint actions are needed to tackle the situation,” she said.

Hasina said this in a video message broadcast in the 78th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) of the UN, reports BSS.

The premier spelled out her suggestions requesting for international support measures for the graduating countries in a more pragmatic way.

She said regional financial cooperation should be enhanced to improve regional crisis management capacity.

Hasina also advocated for taking action-oriented steps to facilitate collaboration in pursuit of knowledge and innovation.

She said ESCAP member states should be assisted in getting united to pursue sufficient allocation of funds and technology for climate change victim countries.

The PM proposed leveraging ICT for employment generation and growth of IT and its enabled services to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

She reiterated her call to the international community to do much more to ensure safe, sustainable and dignified return of over one million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Bangladesh, adds UNB.

“Bangladesh has been hosting 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals. This humanitarian crisis poses a serious security threat,” she said.

Hasina said Bangladesh expects enhanced focus and active support of the international community for safe, sustainable and dignified return of the Rohingyas.

She said when the world is struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war came as a huge blow to the global economic and social stability.

“The poor and developing countries are bearing the brunt of the war.”

The PM said the theme of the session, “A common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific”, is rightly chosen to strengthen regional cooperation, partnership and solidarity for a sustainable world.

She mentioned that Bangladesh has been recommended to graduate from the LDC category in 2026. “It is the global recognition of our planned development journey that we have been following for the last thirteen years.”

Hasina said her government has been working with the aim to transform Bangladesh into a knowledge-based developed and prosperous country by 2041.

She said people are at the centre of our development pursuit and so are the SDGs. “Our government has been working diligently to build a hunger and poverty-free Bangladesh which is the main theme of SDG-1 and SDG-2.”

The PM said the pandemic battered the health systems and economies of most of the countries across the world and the poor and developing countries were the worst sufferers.

“In Bangladesh, while tackling the pandemic, we have tried to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods. Our timely and prudent interventions greatly helped manage the macroeconomic stability,” she said.

While many countries in South Asia experienced negative or nominal GDP growth, Bangladesh maintained a commendable growth during the pandemic, the PM told the session.

She mentioned that Bangladesh is expecting over 7 percent GDP growth in 2021-22.

The PM said Bangladesh has already brought almost all its targeted population under Covid vaccination.

Hasina said Bangladesh is actively engaged in the cross-border paperless trade, Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, public-private partnership networking, renewable energy and other initiatives of UN-ESCAP.

“We gave support to ESCAP’s initiatives for the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway and other approaches,” she said.

The 78th session of the ESCAP is being held from May 23-27 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, marking its 75th anniversary.

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