◈ Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Bangladesh should formulate a roadmap considering its geo-strategic advantage to make the country an aviation hub. “Reaping on the dividend of our geo-strategic advantage, we should create a roadmap as to how we can make our country as an Aviation Hub,” she said in a video statement aired in the inaugural session of the first edition of Aviation Summit in Dhaka. The Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, in collaboration with the UK and France, organised the “Bangladesh Aviation Summit-2023” at a city hotel. The prime minister described the summit as very significant for Bangladesh as it has aspiration to become an aviation hub in the region. She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman undertook measures to turn the country into an ‘Aviation Hub’ to connect the East and the West capitalizing the advantage of Bangladesh’s geographical location, just after achieving the membership of ICAO in 1973. The premier said the move was halted immediately after the assassination of the Father of the Nation in 1975. “We have undertaken several measures to support the development of an aviation hub. During the last one decade, we implemented a host of projects to upgrade our airports, airport security and ground handling,” she said. As part of the move to make Bangladesh as an aviation hub, Sheikh Hasina asked the concerned government organisations, the airlines and other stakeholders to carry out their responsibility to create conducive environment for the development and sustaining market both for passengers and cargo. “The government is going to introduce e-visa system which will also facilitate and expedite the flow of passengers visiting Bangladesh for business or tourism,” she said. Promising aviation industry requires skilled manpower, she said, adding, “Our youth must have the opportunities to be trained to become pilots, aeronautics engineers, mechanics, crew members and much more.” The premier hoped that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University, established by her government, would be able to cater the demand of skilled manpower in the country’s aviation and aerospace industry. She said the aviation industry has to lead by example in tackling climate change and strive to meet SDGs. De-carbonation and sustainable aviation fuel are topics which will require investments, concrete actions and the support from developed aviation nations, she also said. “The aviation partnership proposed by the UK and France, through Airbus, to support us in our journey is very crucial,” she opined. Besides, a number of projects are running which include HSIA Expansion Project (Phase-I), Construction of General Aviation Hangar, Hangar Apron and Apron at North side of Fire Station at HSIA; Strengthening of Existing Runway and Taxiway at Shah Amanat International Airport, Chattogram; Development of Cox’s Bazar Airport (Phase-I), Cox’s Bazar Airport Runway Extension Project; Strengthening of Existing Runway and Taxiway at Osmani International Airport, Sylhet; and Enhancement of Capacity of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh on Public Security at HSIA, she added. The third terminal being constructed under HSIA Expansion Project (Phase-I), will create handling capacity of additional 12 million passengers and 4 million ton cargos, she said. Sheikh Hasina said, “The transformation of our economy helped boost the travel opportunities for our people and open up new routes and markets for our airlines”. When Bangladesh will turn into an Upper Middle Income Country by 2031 and a developed country by 2041, the aviation market will be further expanded, she said. The premier said as the economy of Bangladesh has grown, so has the importance of air cargo. “The air cargo market of Bangladesh is rapidly growing at 8 percent per year – three times the world average. This underlines the strong demand for a dedicated national cargo operation in our country. With all of this in mind, there are areas where aviation actors need to do more,” she said. PM’s Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism M Mahbub Ali and British MP Rushanara Ali, among others, spoke at the summit. ◈ Roadmap needed to make Bangladesh an aviation hub: PM ◈ Holy Ramadan begins on Friday ◈ Mustafizur rested as Bangladesh asked to bat first in 2nd ODI ◈ Putin visits Mariupol in first trip to occupied Ukraine territory
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World left Bangladesh to shelter 1m Rohingya alone, Shahriar tells Guardian

27 October 2022, 11:42:14

Criticizing the international community for not extending all-out support to press Myanmar’s junta to guarantee a safe return for Rohingyas, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said the world has done “absolutely nothing” for safe repatriation of Rohingyas.

“The world has done “absolutely nothing” to ensure safety in Myanmar for its persecuted Rohingya minority,” a prestigious British daily The Guardian quoted Alam in a report published on Wednesday as he told the newspaper.

The state minister said that Bangladesh is sheltering more than 1 million Rohingyas without (global) support, said the report wrote by Kaamil Ahmed.

Alam said financial support for the Rohingya has decreased each year and there has been no real progress towards repatriation in the five years since more than 700,000 fled massacres by Myanmar’s military.

That wave, in August 2017, joined approximately 300,000 people that had already fled Myanmar because of previous security crackdowns, he added.

The state minister said not enough pressure had been brought to bear on Myanmar’s military junta and called for greater international support for a genocide case at the UN’s international courts of justice, and for a case focusing on forced deportation at the international criminal court.

“On the political and repatriation solution, the world is doing absolutely nothing,” Alam was quoted in the report, which added, “They haven’t exercised all their power yet. Up until recently they have kept on investing in Myanmar. The growth of FDI [foreign direct investment] in Myanmar from 2017 to 2020 was greater than that of Bangladesh. You know, how weird is that?”

He (Alam) was skeptical of proposed sanctions on the travel and finances of senior military figures, saying the people in question rarely travel.

The UN humanitarian appeal for the Rohingya refugees has received only a third of funding required this year. Alam said he feared even less money would be donated next year because of rising costs globally.

The mostly Muslim Rohingyas were collectively stripped of their citizenship in 1982 and have been subjected to violent military operations as well as pervasive controls on movement, religion, healthcare and education.

Rohingya labourers arrange bricks at a workplace in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

Thousands who fled military crackdowns in 1978 and 1991 were repatriated, only for Bangladesh to see larger numbers return because no measures were taken to ensure their safety in Myanmar.

“I think some of those [past] agreements were flawed but this time around, the government of Bangladesh is fully committed to a dignified and sustainable return. Unless they are given some basic rights, these people are never going to be willing to return,” Alam said.

Talks with Myanmar to return very small numbers were under way, he added, which he hoped could lay groundwork for larger returns in the future.

The US has offered to resettle some people, he said, but it would need several other countries to make similar offers to significantly ease the burden on Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has twice attempted to repatriate the Rohingya since 2017 but none were willing to return. The government has also relocated more than 30,000 Rohingya to Bhasan Char, an island camp in the Bay of Bengal, despite concern from humanitarian groups about access to basic services and its vulnerability to cyclones.

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