Bangladesh Receives $185 Million World Bank Financing for Renewable Energy

The government of Bangladesh has signed a $185 million financing agreement with the World Bank to add about 310 MW renewable energy generation capacity, which will contribute to reliable, affordable electricity and cleaner air.

The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project will focus on utility scale solar photovoltaic (PV) and rooftop PV to expand new markets in renewable energy generation it the country. The project will establish the country’s first large-scale 50MW grid-tied solar PV generation plant in Feni district, implemented by the Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh (EGCB). To fill the gap in the long-term domestic financing market for renewable energy, the project will also support the Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (IDCOL) to manage a Renewable Energy Financing Facility for both rooftop and utility scale solar PV. It will also help Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) identify sites for large-scale projects and promote new net metering policy for rooftop PV.

Since the last decade, the World Bank has helped Bangladesh increase access to electricity in rural areas through renewable energy. Today, Bangladesh has one of the world’s largest domestic solar power program that serves about one-tenth of the country’s population,” said Dandan Chen, Acting Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “Now, we are going one step further to help Bangladesh expand renewable energy generation on a larger scale. With strong collaboration between the public and private sector, we hope the project will help meet the growing energy demands of the population.”

The project will help unlock private investment and will aim to raise up to $212 million in financing from the private sector, commercial banks, and other sources.

“The project will be important for Bangladesh to tap into its potential for renewable energy generation. Further, it will help reduce a substantive amount of CO2 emissions per year, which is in line with the country’s nationally determined contribution to the Paris climate agreement,” said Monowar Ahmed, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh.

The $185 million credit also includes a $26.38 million loan and a $2.87 million grant from the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) of the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period, and an interest rate of 1.25 percent with a service charge of 0.75 percent. The SCF loan has a maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years with a service charge of 0.1%.

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed more than $30 billion in grants, interest-free and concessional credits to Bangladesh.With this project, the Bank’s ongoing support in the energy sector totals close to $2.4 billion, covering generation, transmission, and distribution, including renewable energy.

UN Agencies, Government Distribute LPG Stoves to Rohingya Refugees, Bangladeshi Villagers to Save Remaining Forests

A major environmental project to provide around 250,000 families with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) stoves and gas cylinders has been launched by UN agencies and the government in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to help prevent further deforestation linked to the Rohingya refugee crisis.


UN agencies and Bangladesh government launch alternative fuel project in Cox’s Bazar to help reduce deforestation linked to Rohingya crisis. Photos: Patrick Shepherd FAO/IOM

At the official launch of phase one of the project yesterday (16/08), over 300 local villagers identified by local officials as extremely vulnerable and in need of support were the first to receive stove and gas sets. Thousands more will be distributed to Rohingya refugees and other host community families over the coming months.

The alternative fuel initiative is being organized by the UN Migration Agency (IOM), UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), working closely with Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MODMR) and Commissioner for Refugee Repatriation and Relief (RRRC).

The launch was attended by senior Bangladeshi officials including Commissioner for Refugee Repatriation and Relief Mohammad Abul Kalam, Divisional Commissioner for Chittagong Mohammad Abdul Mannan, and Deputy Commissioner for Cox’s Bazar Mohammad Kamal Hossain.

Cox’s Bazar was home to significant areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. But the arrival of over 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar over the past year led to massive deforestation as desperate families cut down trees and cleared land to make space for makeshift shelters.

With refugees and many local villagers almost entirely reliant on firewood for cooking, that damage has continued, and forest is being cleared at a rate of 700 metric tonnes – the equivalent of around four football fields of trees – each day. If cutting continues at the current rate, the area’s forest will be completely destroyed by the end of 2019, according to UN estimates.

“This is a vitally important project which will not only help mitigate and redress deforestation and environmental damage but will also play an important role in improving health and safety in the local and refugee communities,” said Sanjukta Sahany, head of IOM’s transition and recovery team in Cox’s Bazar.

Smoke from firewood being burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation is a significant cause of health problems, particularly among women and young children, who spend much of their time indoors.

The reliance on firewood has also raised protection concerns, with most wood collection being carried out by children, who have had to venture further from homes to find wood, as the forest has been cut back. Competition for this increasingly rare resource is also a growing source of conflict between the refugees and local communities.

“By curbing the extraction of firewood from the remaining forests, it allows us to protect, re-enter and replant,” explained Peter Agnew, FAO’s emergency response coordinator in Cox’s Bazar. He noted that the alternative fuel project is part of the wider SAFE Plus project, which is designed to improve economic livelihoods for host communities, and in turn overall food security, as well as the resilience of the refugees, by empowering them through skills development.

“Over the next three years, several thousand people from the local and refugee communities will have livelihood opportunities working on forest rehabilitation with the SAFE Plus project, in coordination with the forestry department,” he said.

UN launches 2018 appeal for Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities

United Nations agencies and NGO partners on Friday released the 2018 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis, a US$951 million appeal to meet the urgent needs of nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees and more than 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities hosting them.

Rohingya refugees

Some 671,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since 25th August 2017

Over the months since the outset of the Rohingya influx, this has been the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, with tens of thousands fleeing by land and sea from Myanmar daily at the peak of the emergency. Some 671,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since 25th August 2017. The Bangladesh Government and Bangladeshi people have responded with extraordinary generosity and hospitality.

Almost seven months on, refugees from Myanmar continue to arrive. And the situation in Cox’s Bazar remains fluid. The Kutupalong-Balukhali site, where some 600,000 refugees are now living, is today the largest and most densely populated refugee settlement in the world. Precarious conditions for the refugees and the ongoing emergency response are about to be further challenged by the approaching monsoon season and rains. More than 150,000 Rohingya refugees are in places at risk of landslides and floods, in what could become a disaster on top of the current emergency.

The 2018 appeal for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis – launched today in Geneva by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, IOM Director General William Swing and UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo – aims to address these challenges, bringing together the critical efforts of more than 100 UN agencies and national and international NGOs. The international humanitarian response aims to ensure refugees and host communities receive the life-saving assistance, protection and support they desperately need, complementing the continuing efforts of the Bangladeshi authorities.

“We are talking about truly critical needs here both on the part of the Bangladeshi communities who have so generously opened their doors, and of a stateless and refugee population that even prior to this crisis was among the world’s most marginalised and at risk,” said High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “The solutions to this crisis lie inside Myanmar, and conditions must be established that will allow refugees to return home. But today we are appealing for help with the immediate needs, and these needs are vast.”

The appeal aims to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees and host communities, and support environmentally sustainable solutions, confidence-building and resilience of affected populations until the end of 2018. It also includes contingency planning for 80,000 more Rohingya refugees in the coming months.

“The needs and vulnerabilities of the Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh are immense,” said William Swing, IOM Director General. “Many Governments generously supported the last Rohingya crisis appeal. Given the large scale of the emergency and the amount of humanitarian services needed to ensure lives can be protected with dignity, continued and enhanced support is necessary.”

The needs are urgent. The funding will help in meeting the life-saving and acute humanitarian needs both of refugees and of affected host communities. More than half the appeal (54 per cent) is to ensure food, water and sanitation, shelter and other basic aid. Food needs alone account for 25 per cent of the total.

Over 16 million litres of safe water are needed every day for the Rohingya refugee population. Some 12,200 metric tons of food are required every month. At least 180,000 refugee families need cooking fuel. Some 50,000 latrines need to be constructed and maintained, and at least 30 sewage management facilities are required.

Forty-three primary health centres and 144 health posts are needed. Another 5,000 classrooms for 614,000 children and youth must be made available for there to be proper access to education. Some 100 nutrition treatment centres and a range of protection programmes for the 144,000 single mothers and their families and the 22,000 children at risk are also an urgent priority. Around 400,000 children in refugee and host communities require trauma care and related support.

“Obviously there is great appreciation for the generosity with which the response has been funded. But let’s not forget one thing: the biggest donor to this crisis is Bangladesh,” said Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.

“In terms of being the first responders, in terms of providing land, in terms of keeping its borders open, in terms of providing asylum, in terms of building roads, extending electricity networks, providing food, seconding civil servants, providing police and army to keep order in the camp. The biggest donor to this crisis continues to be the people and the government of Bangladesh.”

The humanitarian response in Bangladesh faces immense challenges. Conditions are congested, and hundreds of incidents of gender-based violence are reported weekly. Public health concerns are acute, including measles, diphtheria and diarrhoea.

The Rohingya refugee situation in Cox’s Bazar is an acute humanitarian crisis that needs urgent funding to save lives and provide essential aid. So far, the emergency response from September 2017 to February 2018 has received 74 per cent of the funding needed (US$321 million of the US$434 million required).

Statement from the UN Migration Agency Director General William Lacy Swing on Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis


Geneva – Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Good morning excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentleman.

Having just returned from Bangladesh this weekend, I have three very distinct impressions that I would like to share with you as urgent for our consideration.

First of all, the sheer speed, size and scope of the Rohingya refugee crisis that has occurred over the last nearly two months has resulted in a shocking humanitarian emergency that is, I believe, unparalleled in this region and in many parts of the world. You have heard the statistics and it is almost trite to repeat them, but we now have approaching  900,000 people being cared for by the Bangladesh Government, people and local communities at great cost to the country,  and being done in a very professional way. The situation therefore requires an unparalleled response on the part of all of us.


Soaked to the skin a Rohingya mother tries to protect her child with her drenched scarf, as it pelted down with rain yesterday (19/10). They were among the 6,900 Rohingya refugees who arrived in Cox’s Bazar from no man’s land. Photo: UN Migration Agency/Timothy Wolfer 2017

Second, as a consequence, Bangladesh Prime Minister, her Government, the people, and numerous local host communities, despite their laudable generosity, and UN agencies, ICRC, NGOs and other partners, despite a massive scaling up of our staff and resources,  we are now faced with the challenge of enormous proportions that requires an enormous response over the foreseeable future. To be quite frank, everything is a priority. If you had to look at the top priorities, however, it would probably be above all else shelter – building shelter for 900,000 people, 600,000 of whom have arrived in the last two months – protection, including proper registration, food security, basic health services and water and basic sanitation facilities.

Third point, we are grateful to all of you today for this very strong turnout, and I hope that we are here today to commit ourselves to stay the course in support of the incredibly resilient Rohingya  refugees. We must in parallel also, however, urge world leaders to engage a political process that will allow these Rohingya refugees to return home voluntarily and to do so in conditions of safety, security, dignity and social cohesion, and we should insist with Myanmar officials that these conditions are met.

Now, we all know that there are no durable humanitarian solutions to political crises and political problems. The Rohingya refugee situation clearly represents a humanitarian situation that currently cries out the loudest for our help but we also note that we are in fierce competition for resources that are very scarce, including resources for those, who are stretched from Africa to South-Asia in armed conflict. So, we need to give our attention specifically today to making sure that the Rohingya refugees are not somehow lost in this arc of suffering across this area of the world. We need to move quickly to ensure sustainable life-saving assistance to the refugee population in Bangladesh, to help the Government, the people and particularly the numerous host communities in Cox’s Bazar, whose resources are already under considerable strain. Simultaneously,  we must also urge international leaders to support the peaceful resolution of this decade long crisis in Myanmar and insist that the Myanmar authorities create conditions of safety, security and dignity in Rakhine state to one of the world’s most persecuted populations.

Now, we have a road map, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state that was established by the Office of the State Council and the Kofi Anan Foundation. The recommendations have been accepted by all authorities, this is the way forward to peaceful co-existence in Rakhine state, and we need to insist that we start implementing these right away, step by step, starting with the first step, which is to allow humanitarians to resume their work in the northern part of Rakhine state.

So with that, I will stop here and look forward to our time together today.

Thank you very much.

UN Migration Chief Ends Visit to Bangladesh as Bleak Picture Emerges of Rohingya Settlements

Yesterday (19/10) over 6,900 Rohingya refugees who were stranded in dire conditions in no-man’s land at Anjuman Para on Bangladesh’s side of the border, were moved by the Bangladesh military to several makeshift settlements in the Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar. Some 800,000 Rohingyas are now living in the settlements, 589,000 of whom have arrived since August 25th.


Soaked to the skin a Rohingya mother tries to protect her child with her drenched scarf, as it pelted down with rain yesterday (19/10). They were among the 6,900 Rohingya refugees who arrived in Cox’s Bazar from no man’s land. Photo: UN Migration Agency/Timothy Wolfer 2017

Also yesterday, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing concluded a three-day visit to Bangladesh and thanked the government for its continued willingness to open the country’s borders to hundreds of thousands of desperate Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar.

During Ambassador Swing’s meetings with high level officials, the Bangladesh Government reconfirmed its commitment to allow Rohingya seeking protection from violence in Myanmar to continue entering the country. It also confirmed its willingness to consider additional options for the settlement of the new arrivals, including the creation of more manageable, smaller camps to alleviate public health and security concerns.

On Thursday, men, women and children continued to pour into the settlements where IOM and its humanitarian partners are on the ground providing lifesaving assistance. They walked in long lines – exhausted, hungry and muddied after days of walking from villages in Myanmar’s North Rakhine State to Anjuman Para.  Men carried tired children and old people in baskets on shoulder poles, together with whatever meagre possessions they had salvaged from their homes. Children carried younger siblings on their backs and women trudged through the mud with infants in their arms under the rain.

The entrances to the Kutupalong refugee camp and makeshift settlement are a surging sea of humanity. Most families have nothing. The lucky ones have managed to bring some clothes, pots and pans, the odd water carrier.

One family arrived with their three daughters, but told IOM staff they had to leave their two sons behind to come later with neighbours. Another family said they had to leave their two young sons with neighbours, as they would not have been able to carry the boys, given the fact that their mother was ill and needed her husband’s help to walk.
Mohammed Hanun said he trekked for 11 days before reaching no man’s land in Anjuman Para. He waited there for three days without any food, before finally reaching Kutupalong yesterday.

These new arrivals bring the total Rohingya population of Cox’s Bazar settlements to around 800,000. IOM’s latest Needs and Population Monitoring Report, published on Wednesday, estimated that over half of the 582,000 new arrivals who were there by mid-week are women and girls. The report identified a total of 28 collective sites and 99 locations in host communities between 30 September – 9 October 2017.

The report noted that of the total population, 33,542 (4 per cent) were registered and living in two UNHCR refugee camps. The remaining 96 per cent (761,116) were living in makeshift settlements, spontaneous sites and host communities.

Based on sampling techniques across the sites, the assessment identified lactating mothers (9.2 per cent) and pregnant woman (4.9 per cent) as the two highest number of vulnerable groups within the population. An estimated 3.6 per cent of the total number of households were female-headed and 2.2 per cent headed by elderly persons.

Lifesaving services delivered by IOM and its partner agencies include clean water and sanitation, shelter, food security, healthcare, education and psychosocial support for the most vulnerable individuals, many of whom are suffering from acute mental trauma or are survivors of sexual violence.

Since late August, IOM has scaled up quickly – shelter has been provided to 379,000 individuals, while 47,000 health consultations have been provided. IOM has contributed 200 staff to assist in a Ministry of Health-led Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) campaign that has reached 679,000 people. Some 678,000 litres of water have been distributed, along with over 11,000 dignity kits. IOM staffing has also been boosted with 443 staff and community volunteers in country.

Earlier this month, the UN launched a Joint Response Plan, in order to sustain and enhance the large humanitarian effort already under way. The plan requires USD 434 million to meet the life-saving needs of all Rohingya refugees and their host communities – together an estimated 1.2 million people – for the difficult months to come.

IOM’s funding requirements within this plan amount to USD 120 million. A pledging conference for the crisis organized by IOM, UNOCHA and UNHCR, and co-hosted by the European Union and Kuwait, will take place in Geneva on Monday (23/10). The conference will provide governments from around the world an opportunity to show their solidarity and share the burden and responsibility for the Rohingya refugees.

Rohingya Children Drown Fleeing Myanmar Violence: IOM

Tragedy struck more Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar last night. At least 13 people, mostly children, drowned when the fishing boat carrying them to safety in Bangladesh capsized in stormy weather.


IOM staff speak to survivors from a fishing boat that capsized in stormy weather in waters between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

The Bangladesh coast guard found 13 bodies, including seven boys between the ages of 3-10 years, and four girls aged 2-3 years. The bodies of a 70-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman were also recovered from the waves.

There were approximately 60 refugees aboard the 20-metre, wooden fishing vessel when it left Myanmar under cover of darkness, hoping avoid patrols on both sides of the border, survivors told UN Migration Agency staff at the scene.

IOM staff spoke to survivors, among them a traumatized 8-year-old boy. Transfixed with shock, Arafat, said his entire family was lost in the accident. They included his father Kamal Hossain, 25 years; mother Shahara Khatun, 20 years; sister Jannat Ara, 10 years; and younger brother Ziad, who was 7 years of age.

“Where will I go now,” he cried, as a relative who had travelled from Cox’s Bazaar on hearing the news of the tragedy stood by him.

Two other children sitting next to Arafat also lost their entire families last night.

Rumana, a 7-year-old girl, told IOM her mother Ayesha (35), two sisters Minara  (8) and Nur Fatima (10) as well as her  brother Nur Hashim (7) all drowned. Her father had died shortly after she was born. Rumana, still visibly in shock as she recounted the names and ages of her family, ended with: “Everyone in my family died.”

Jobayer, an 8-year-old boy lost his entire family. His mother Moriom Khatun (30) father Habibullah (40), brother Kefayet Ullah (10) and two sisters Fatema (9) and Taiyaba (7) where amongst those who did not make it last night.

Another survivor, Hassan (22) lost all nine members of his family, who were also on the boat. His mother Gulzar, 60 years old; father Jahid Hossain, 55; sister Senoara, 25; her husband Abdus Subhan, 35; and their three children aged 4, 3 and 18 months all drowned, along with a baby niece and a nephew.

Syed Hoson, 25, lost his wife Khaleda Begum, 22 and three boys Ibrahin, 7, Mohammad Hoson, 5, and Sobayer, 3 months-old.

The funeral of seven of those who drowned took place earlier today. The service attended by the IOM filed staff on the scene, was conducted near where they drowned.

The fleeing Rohingya had paid Bangladeshi fisherman the equivalent of USD 30 a head for what should have been a short sea journey, survivors said.

Their boat was headed for Shahporir Dwip, an island at the southern tip of Bangladesh, about 78 kilometres south of Cox’s Bazar, when it foundered at Golar Para Char when the fisherman at the helm lost control and ran aground.

The overloaded boat, which would normally carry 20 people, had approximately 60 on board, and was swamped by high waves and winds in a sudden monsoon storm.

It sailed from Dongkhalir Char in Buthidaung Township, North Rakhine State, at around 6.00 pm local time. At around 9 pm the Bangladesh coast guard and border police were alerted and launched a rescue mission.

Like many of the most recent arrivals in Bangladesh, the refugees caught up in last night’s tragedy came from villages well inside Myanmar. They told IOM staff that they walked for eleven days before reaching the coast.

“Thousands of Rohingya have taken shelter at Dongkhalir Char. Some are living in the open under the sun, others managed to get polythene, tarpaulin or are using pieces of cloth to make temporary shelters for themselves. People there are waiting for boats to come from Bangladesh to help them cross,” Hassan told IOM.

Their tragedy follows on another mass drowning on September 28, when another fishing boat carrying refugees capsized near the same spot. In that incident 23 people were drowned and 17 survived.

As of 7th October, 519,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh, including 467,800 identified by IOM assessments in the Cox’s Bazar area.

UN Migration Agency calls for coordinated response as nearly 400,000 stream into Bangladesh’a Cox’s Bazar

IOM, the UN Migration Agency yesterday highlighted the need for a coordinated humanitarian response to the massive inflow of destitute people fleeing Myanmar and arriving in Cox’s Bazar. 

Estimated new arrivals have reached 391,000 and there is no sign of the flow of people drying up, as smoke from burning villages in Myanmar’s North Rakhine State remains clearly visible from the Cox’s Bazar district.

Thousands of the new arrivals are now walking north along clogged roads towards a 1,500-acre settlement site demarcated by the Government. Located between two of the biggest makeshift settlements of Kutupalong and Balukhali, the site will help aid agencies to access over 200,000 new arrivals currently camping or living in the open on waste ground, hillsides or by the side of the road.

In these so-called spontaneous settlements, people who arrive from Myanmar exhausted, hungry and often traumatized by the violence that they have seen, are living in terrible conditions, often with no shelter, no food, and no access to clean water or basic services.

“To respond to this inflow, which is unprecedented in terms of speed and numbers, we need to ensure a coordinated response among the growing number of agencies bringing lifesaving aid to the thousands of people flooding into Cox’s Bazar,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies. “In order to help the most vulnerable, we have to identify who needs what where, and which agency can provide it. This is critical if we are to get help to the people who need it most, as fast as possible.”

IOM hosts the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), which publishes a daily report summarizing the emergency response in sectors including shelter and essential non-food items; water, sanitation and hygiene; health; safety, dignity and human rights; education; and nutrition. Each sector is led by an operational aid agency, which coordinates the work of other agencies active in the sector. They in turn feed data back to the ISCG coordination unit, which uses it to map the emergency and identify resources, needs and agencies that can meet them. 

The Government of Bangladesh, foreign governments, including Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia, and aid agencies on the ground are now racing against the clock to bring in the lifesaving food, shelter, water, sanitation, health and other services that the new arrivals need.

ISCG agencies operating in Cox’s Bazar have appealed for USD 77.1 million to fund the emergency response through year end (ISCG Preliminary Response Plan). Several agencies, including IOM, have committed funding from their emergency reserves. The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, the European Commission and the United Kingdom have also made funding commitments but agencies face a huge funding shortfall. This is likely to increase as people continue to arrive from Myanmar.

As part of the overall ISCG appeal, IOM launched a Flash Appeal, covering the next three months, of USD 26.1 million to meet the immediate needs of the newly arrived people. The appeal includes USD 100,000 for the coordination of the response.

Within the framework of Bangladesh’s National Strategy on Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals (UMNs) in Bangladesh, IOM has been coordinating the humanitarian assistance to people who have crossed in Bangladesh from Myanmar and vulnerable host communities in Cox’s Bazar since 2014. Prior to the latest influx, IOM Bangladesh was coordinating humanitarian assistance to some 200,000 living in makeshift settlements and host communities in Cox’s Bazar. Lifesaving services delivered by IOM and its partner agencies include clean water and sanitation, shelter, food security, health care, education, and psychosocial support for the most vulnerable individuals, many whom are suffering from acute mental trauma or are survivors of sexual violence.