During my time in Bangladesh, I met Ministers to discuss the impact of UK aid across the country and reinforced the UK’s commitment to assisting Bangladesh’s efforts to support both the Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.
I have visited Bangladesh and saw not only Rohingya refugee camps, but wider UK aid projects. Does the Secretary of State agree that we have a huge role to play, that this is a good use of UK taxpayers’ money and that we should continue to support people in Bangladesh?
I thank my hon. Friend for visiting Bangladesh. It is incredibly helpful for us to get as many reports as possible about the difference that UK aid is making and about the situation on the ground. He is right that we should be proud of helping 1.6 million children to gain a decent education and providing nearly 900,000 people with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation and 3.7 million children, women and adolescent girls with nutritional interventions.
It is clear that the conditions are not in place for the safe voluntary return of Rohingya refugees to Burma. Did the Secretary of State have an opportunity to discuss with the Bangladeshis the possibility of something akin to the Jordan jobs compact that could benefit not only the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar but, importantly, the local Bangladeshi community?
Although all the people understandably want to return home, it is important to recognise that they can do so only when the conditions are met, which means that we are in a protracted situation. We have to start thinking about better shelter, jobs and livelihoods for both the Rohingya and the host communities.
I did discuss those things, as my hon. Friend would expect, and we are sceptical about some of the Bangladeshi Government’s ideas. We watched presentations about the island and the investment made there, but that will only take 100,000 people, and there are many more at Cox’s Bazar. We therefore need to consider other options for how to support Bangladesh in managing the protracted crisis.
The United Nations convention on the rights of the child states that every child has the right to an education, but that is simply not the case for many thousands of Rohingya children in camps in Bangladesh. What conversations has the Secretary of State had with her counterparts to ensure that adequate educational facilities and opportunities are available to Rohingya children?
I did raise the specifics. Both Bangladesh and the UK are doing a tremendous amount, but we need other donors to lean in and support such initiatives. However, we are pleased that UK aid is making a profound difference, particularly for children with disabilities.