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Bangladesh in image crisis for human trafficking and irregular migration to Europe in sea routes

Trafficking godfathers must be caught: NHRC chair

Bangladesh is now among the top countries of origin for illegal immigrants in Europe. In the first six months of the current year (2017), 7,899 illegal Bangladeshi migrants entered Europe through the Mediterranean Sea route only, according to Frontex, an organisation of European Council working to coordinate between the border security forces of European Union member countries.

Speakers revealed this information at a consultation meeting today on Saturday (29 July 2017) at BRAC Centre Inn. Development organisation BRAC organised the event titled 'Situation analysis of illegal trafficking and irregular migration' on the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

Kazi Reazul Hoque, chairman, National Human Rights Commission Bangladesh, was present at the programme as the chief guest.

Chaired and moderated by Asif Saleh, senior director, strategy, communication and empowerment, BRAC and BRAC International, the event was also attended, among others, by Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary, expatriates welfare and oversees employment ministry, C R Abrar, professor, International Relations, Dhaka University, also coordinator of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), and Shah Alam, Additional Deputy Inspector General of CID. Representatives of different development organisations, senior police officers and senior journalists were also present at the meeting.

Md Shariful Hasan, programme head, BRAC Migration Programme, presented the keynote article at the event. Analysing the situation from different angles he said that there is no definite statistics about the exact number of Bangladeshis currently staying illegally in Europe. However, a European Union delegation during their Dhaka visit in this April stated that around 80 thousand illegal Bangladeshi migrants are currently stating in Europe. The European Commission statistics office Eurostat states that in 2008-2015 period 93,435 Bangladeshis were staying illegally in the European countries. This number should cross 100 thousand if the account of the first six years of current year is added to 2008-2015 account.

NHRC chair Kazi Reazul Hoque at the programme said, 'It is true that we have an excellent law formulated in 2012. About the same time law was passed against money laundering. But certainly question is there about the extent of their proper implementation.'

'According to the police, only 30 convicts have been given life imprisonment so far out of 3500 human trafficking cases,' he further said, observing pointing out a number of weaknesses in the present manner of dealing with such cases. 'Many times the court does not have anything to do against the perpetrators because the police give flawed reports.' 'No matter how the incidents took place it is our responsibility to protect human rights,' the NHRC chair stressed, 'the state must take responsibility'. He suggested that the government may undertake making a shortlist of 25 top 'godfathers' to chase and nab them.

Professor C R Abrar said, 'We must keep in mind that the human traffickers in both country and abroad are a highly powerful coterie. We have to be have sufficient preparation to bring them to book.'

Expatriate welfare additional secretary Jabed Ahmed said, 'Reducing the cost of migration is still the biggest challenge. When someone migrates spending an excess amount of money, in the urge of recovering that expenses many times they become irregular.'

He stressed on strong coordination among the home ministry, foreign affairs ministry, commercial aviation and other relevant ministries to prevent human trafficking.

BRAC senior director Asif Saleh presented the recommendations of the consultation meeting, saying 'We should focus on four main issues to prevent human trafficking: Ensuring accountability of the law enforcement agencies, utrilising the mass media to raise mass awareness, ensuring follow-up of legal cases and ensuring strong coordinator among the relevant ministries.'

Expatriates welfare and oversees employment ministry's deputy chief K M Ali Reza, development practitioner Asif Munir, additional police super of anti-human trafficking cell of Bangladesh Police Masura Begum, and Rapid Action Battalion deputy director Abdullah Al Maruf also spoke among others.

Speakers also told the meeting that in the early July this year around 2,000 illegally travelling Bangladeshis have become stuck in Turkey en route to Europe. The scenario becomes even bleaker when the illegal travel to Malaysia and Thailand through dangerous sea routes and the mass graves recently discovered in those countries are considered. Malaysia has already started its operation against illegal immigrants, while Saudi Arabia is taking its preparation. According to the expatriates welfare and oversees employment ministry, around 800 thousand (8 lakh) Bangladeshi migrants returned for lacking legal documents.

The speakers further said Bangladesh's status in the annual report of the US foreign affairs ministry published this has gone one step down. In this report the relevant countries are divided in three tiers. In last five years Bangladesh was in Tier-2, while this year it has been positioned one step down to Tier-2-Watch List along with 45 other countries including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Hong Kong. This scenario is a really worrying one particularly at this juncture when Bangladesh is poised for upgrading itself to a middle-income country and aspires to establish a strong safe migration process.

Referring to International refugee Organisation, the speakers said in last ten years around 150 thousand Bangladeshis have been the victim of illegal trafficking through Bay of Bengal routes. Of then at least 1500 died in the sea. Of the over 200 dead bodies recovered from the mass graves of Malaysia and Thailand, many were of Bangladeshi citizens. According to the information from the Bangladesh foreign affairs ministry and International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the government returned 2,183 Bangladeshis, of whom 183 are children. According to the police headquarters, since the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012 was passed around 3500 cases were filed. But the victims complain that most of these cases are seriously delayed.

Country-Representative-of-BRAC-in-Liberia-receiving-the-medal-from-Her-Excellency-President-Sirleaf-frontCountry-Representative-of-BRAC-in-Liberia-receiving-the-medal-from-Her-Excellency-President-SirleafCountry Representative of BRAC in Liberia receiving the medal from Her Excellency President Sirleaf

BRAC in Liberia was honoured by the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the celebrations marking the 170th Anniversary of the independence of Liberia. The investiture ceremony took place on 25 July, 2017 at the C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.

President Sirleaf, herself the Grand Master of the Order of Distinction of the Republic of Liberia, admitted BRAC into the Humane Order of Africa Redemption and conferred the Grade of “Knight Commander” in consideration of the contributions of BRAC to alleviate poverty in Liberia. Mainuddin Ahmed, the Country Representative of BRAC in Liberia, received the medal on behalf of BRAC.

The-Knight-Order-Certification-for-BRAC-in-LiberiaThe Knight Order Certification for BRAC in Liberia

The President recognised and publicly appreciated BRAC’s contributions to the socio-economic development of Liberia through multi-sectoral programmes which have spurred economic recovery and growth over the past ten years.

Thursday, 08 June 2017 00:00

Celebrating diversity in Sierra Leone

Liberia-celebrating-diveristy-frontLiberia-celebrating-diveristyBRAC in Sierra Leone celebrating diversity

Liberia-football-team-on-Diversity-DayBRAC in Sierra Leone football team on Diversity Day

BRAC in Sierra Leone celebrated the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development across the country. All area offices, branch offices and the country office got involved for the occasion.

The country office celebrated the day at the famous Aberdeen/Lumley Beach with cultural events, food, and sports and games. Representatives from each ethnic group in our offices talked about their cultural practices, norms and values of their respective tribes, followed by music and dancing.

The staff partook in various sports and games afterwards, including football, volleyball, musical chairs, Ludo and more.

Liberia-ED-visit-Cash-for-work-CFW-frontLiberia-ED-visit-Cash-for-work-CFWBI ED visit Cash for work (CFW) site at Airport branch

The executive director for BRAC International, Mr Faruque Ahmed visited BRAC in Liberia from May 9, 2017 to May 12, 2017. During this time, he visited several project sites and met with some of the beneficiaries and staffs of the programmes, including microfinance, early childhood development and cash for work.

Liberia-BRAC-Int-ED-demonstrateBRAC Int.l Executive Director demonstrate mount preparation for Cassava

Mr Ahmed met with Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to discuss how BRAC can provide a platform for the Government to achieve their goals. He also held meetings with various other Government officials and donors in the trip, including the Minister of State for Presidential Affair Mr Slyvester M. Grigsby, the Minister of Agriculture and the Ambassador and Delegates of European Union to Liberia.

Mr Ahmed concluded the trip by spending time with the team in Liberia and engaging in some lively discussions with the staff.

 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 00:00

Radio Pollikontho wins ABU Awards

Ankhi-Palit-receives-award-frontAnkhi-Palit-receives-award

Community Radio Pollikontho (99.2 FM), an initiative of BRAC Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) has been honoured with the ABU (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union) Awards on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ankhi Palit, the producer of Community Radio Pollikontho received best radio feature international award in the category of “Disaster Risk Reduction“ in a competition of the broadcasters organised by Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

The award was given in recognition of the best production and presentation of a community radio feature titled: “Follow Earthquake Practices and save yourself.” Ankhi Palit produced the programme following a radio script prepared by Biplob Kanti Dev, another producer of Radio Pollikontho.

Martuza Ahmed, hon’ble secretary of the Ministry of Information handed over the prize to Ankhi Palit on 10 May 2017 at a Gala night held at Bangabandhu International Conference Center, Dhaka. Radio Pollikontho is the only recipient of this award from Bangladesh.

The ABU recognises the best productions in radio and television categories every year to encourage inspiring stories across the globe on climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. Hasanul Haque Inu MP, hon’ble minister for Ministry of Information, & Dr. Javed Mottagi, secretary general, the Asia - Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and all participants of 3rd ABU Media Summit were present during the Gala Awards Ceremony. This is annual competition honours the best Radio and Television programme on climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. The competition has two radio and two television categories and two special awards.

Community Radio Pollikontho 99.2 FM, was launched in 2011 at Moulvibazar district with the aim to increase access to information and also strengthen grassroots voice, especially of women. The programmes are designed to address socio-economic issues within the community, prioritising on women and children. Currently, 729 listeners clubs have been formed to ensure greater community engagement with the radio station. It is mentionable that in 2015, it won `The ABU Prize’, organised by Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, for the radio programme on autism called Tobuo Shopno (ray of hope). It won Meena Media Awards of UNICEF Bangladesh, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 for its work in promoting child rights and children’s education in the media. It also won Family Planning Media Award 2013, organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in cooperation with UNFPA, for its programme called Shushasthya (Good Health).

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 00:00

Diversity Day 2017

diversity-2017-frontdiversity-2017WE ARE BRAC!

BRAC International celebrated World Cultural Diversity Day on May 21, 2017, across its countries, as well as at the head office in Dhaka. The staff in Dhaka was joined by the second batch of international Young Professionals, who are visiting on training purposes.

diversity-2017-best-dressedMohammed Madaty as best dressed with his award

BI hosted a small ceremony where people were encouraged to dress up, representing a culture of their choice. It was a very colourful event with attires from all corners of the world. The event started with the Head of Communications, Ms. Shehzeen Chowdhury giving her take on diversity, explaining how BRAC International gains its strength through the presence of various ideas and thoughts from different cultures and traditions. Her sentiments were echoed by more speakers who shared similar sentiments.

After talking about diversity for a bit, a vote was taken to establish who was the best dressed for the day. The winner was Mr. Mohamed Madaty, one of our Young Professionals from Tanzania. Mr. Madaty expressed his gratitude at winning the award and dedicated it all his colleagues.

BRAC International prides itself on its diversity and continues to foster an environment which is welcoming to people from all walks of life.

diversity-2017-ypBRAC International Young Professionals 2017

pakistan-brac-school-frontpakistan-brac-schoolDr. Fauzia Khan addressing learners in BRAC Primary school

The additional secretary Government of Sindh and the head of curriculum wing of Sindh, Dr. Fauzia Khan, inaugurated a BRAC Primary school in Baldia Town, Karachi.

BRAC in Pakistan, with financial support from DFID, has established 300 non-formal schools for out-of-school, marginalised children in April 2017. 9,000 learners have been enrolled in Karachi, Khairpur and Kambar Shahdadkot districts of Sindh province.

pakistan-brac-schoolDr. Fauzia Khan inaugurating the new school

During the opening ceremony of the school, Dr. Khan appreciated BRAC's efforts to provide education to out-of-school children, especially girls. She addressed the community and parents, and she encouraged learners to put their heart and mind in their studies. She also welcomed new admissions to the school and met with the school management committee members. “This project will significantly improve the net enrolment rate of Sindh province," she exclaimed, and pledged to extended the full support of the Government of Sindh for the capacity building of BRAC’s teachers.

BRAC in Pakistan has started 1,500 primary schools and enrolled 46,566 out-of-school children in the rural and urban slum areas of Sindh. 5,493 learners were successfully graduated and mainstreamed into middle schools with the help of the Education and Literacy department of the Government of Sindh.

urban-innovation-challenge-fronturban-innovation-challenge

BRAC announced five winners for bringing innovative solutions to the growing challenges faced by the people living in cities across Bangladesh. The mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Annisul Huq, announced the winners at an event organised at BRAC Centre today (7 May 2017).

Praising the initiative he said, “It’s wonderful to see the youth coming up with so many innovative ideas for the country. I really appreciate BRAC’s effort in creating a space and scope to incubate these innovations.” He also added, “The city corporation is always ready to support the new innovators to bring their ideas into effective solutions. We are hopeful for the results. Thanks to all the participants who joined the competition.”

Launched in October 2016, the competition created a platform for innovators, young entrepreneurs and university students to offer their solutions to the growing problems in urban areas. The three specific problem areas were: health, transportation and informal sector employment. The goal is to find the best ideas in Bangladesh and support innovators to build them into sustainable social enterprise models.

Around 600 applicants registered for the competition. 33 were short-listed for submitting full proposals. 13 teams were selected for the final round.

A jury of 5 experts including development practitioners and investors assessed the proposals on sustainability, relevance and human centricity of the design. Five teams are finally selected as winners. The winning teams are: Bhumijo and Bloodman in health category, Driver Mela and Servicing Campus in employment category and Amar Bike in transport category.

Winners will build their prototypes and test them in the field with BRAC in the next six months. They will receive mentoring, skills development and support, as well as a grant amount up to BDT 5 lac and linkage to potential investors.

The runners up of the competition are HealthSoc and The Neem Squad in health category, BlueSynaps, Team B and Unigigg in employment category and Barisal-1 and SmartTraffic in transport category. Identity Inclusion got special mention in health category.

Present as special guest, Executive Chairman of PPRC Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said, “Innovation always works when there is an ecosystem. Innovative mind-set is another essential component of this system. I am happy that the competition was not Dhaka based, rather it was Bangladesh based, which proves that innovative mind-set is everywhere. We just need to give them a platform. The Urban Innovation Challenge not only ensured that platform but it also helped to produce responsible citizenship.”

In the concluding remarks, BRAC’s senior director Mr Asif Saleh said, “With our experience from the last 45 years, we can guide the young innovators to bring their ideas into a sustainable solutions. In order to do so, all of us the innovators, the mentors and the investors have to work together.”

Shout-Daily Star partnered the Urban Innovation challenge for youth engagement, Radio Shadhin for radio engagement, Beatnik for digital engagement and IDEO.ORG for knowledge management.

This competition was a part of BRAC’s newly launched urban development programme which focuses on improved service delivery, mobilisation and governance.

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