A coalition of 700 non-government and civil society organisations have urged the United Nations to limit its role only to monitoring and technical assistance in operation of programmes for supporting the Rohingya people in Cox's Bazar.
BDCSOProcess made the call as its leaders demanded that local NGOs/CSOs be allowed to remain at the forefront of the humanitarian response and development activities there.
From a three-day conference, the coalition insisted that the UN should not replace them but instead strengthen the local NGOs with equal partnership and transparency in Rohingya response and other programmes in Bangladesh.
"At the international level we will fight for the UN to uphold multilateralism, but at the national level, the UN should not consider that we are in another part; local NGOs have to be treated with equality," Shaheen Anam, executive director at Manusher Jonno Foundation, told the concluding session of the conference on Saturday.
The session was titled “UN at 75: Interfacing Government and Civil Society for Development and Sustainable Peace”.
Ms Anam expressed solidarity with human dignity of the Rohingya, but said local NGOs' leadership should not be undermined in any way.
Smruti Patel of A4EP, Switzerland, said the voice of local NGOs should be heard at the UN top-level. "The UN has to show accountability to the local actors for [spending] aid money," she added.
Keonraad Van Brabant of GMI, Switzerland also emphasised the need for engaging the Rohingya leaders in the process of humanitarian supports.
The Asia Foundation's Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj observed that Bangladeshi NGOs are now so matured that they should not be undermined.
Cox’s Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industry leader Abu Murshed Chowdhury expressed hope that the UN agencies should not make any delay in announcing a roadmap for engagement of the local NGOs. He pointed out that it would hardly be possible to address the current crisis in the Rohingya camps without participation of local NGOs and the host government.
Expressing support to multilateralism at the UN level, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nazrul Islam mentioned that the government also recognises the "leadership role" of local NGOs at the grassroots level.
Dr Dipankar Datta of Oxfam International said rather than talking about UN reforms, there should be a discussion on what the global body's commitment is and how much it has fulfilled that.
Md Rafiqul Islam, FNB; Arifur Rahman, YPSA; Mohsin Ali, WAVE Foundation; PHALS & CCNF; Fayezullah Chowdhury, BUP; Momotaz Khatun, Ashroy Foundation; and Rafiqul Islam Khokan of RUPANTAR also spoke at the concluding session.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, National Coordinator, BDCSO, moderated the session.