Apparently frustrated over the dilly-dallying of the rich countries in providing their surplus covid vaccines to the country, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday accused them of using vaccines as a ‘tool of exploitation’.
“We have been vocal for equitable distribution of vaccines throughout the world but the rich countries have stored huge number of vaccines,” the minister, who returned home from the USA in the early hours on Tuesday, told the newsmen.
“I have mentioned it during my meetings with top UN officials. Many countries piled up stock, doubled than their population, and these vaccines are now on the verge of being expired” he said.
Mr Momen mentioned that in the run up to Bangladesh’s frantic efforts to collect vaccines, many rich countries made sweet promises but in reality, they are not delivering.
“Instead when we request for vaccines they demand something else in exchange, like supporting their candidate in certain international body election” the foreign minister said adding that Bangladesh does not want this kind of conditions.
Asked about the possibility of getting AstraZeneca vaccine from the US surplus stock, he said that the Secretary of State had written him promising to provide vaccines but he did not mention when and how many would be delivered.
While commenting on his participation in the LDC meeting held in the USA, he blasted the rich countries for not fulfilling their promises on aid and trade for the LDC countries.
“In 2010 LDC meeting, we had fixed some targets including doubling the trade within the next ten years but in reality, the global share of the LDC countries in trade comes to 1.01 per cent only from 1.06 per cent”.
“To attain the SDG goals the LDC countries need aid from the rich countries. But the amount of the aid disbursed to the LDCs is only 0.6 per cent of the requirement” he added.
Aid from the rich countries is a right of the LDCs as these countries were exploited by the rich countries during the colonial period.
The minister mentioned that Bangladesh stressed the necessity of extending the LDC facilities for it to absorb the shock of the post LDC period.
Rohingya issue in UN
The foreign minister said that Bangladesh abstained from voting in the UN in favour of a resolution that calls for restoration of democracy in Myanmar because the resolution did not incorporate the repatriation of Rohingya issue, which was the main demand of Bangladesh.
That does not mean that we do not at the restoration of democracy, though we have seen that the democratic government also had failed to meet the promise of starting repatriation.
‘Our main priority is repatriation, so we abstained from the voting in protest and simultaneously issued a statement explaining the reason’ he added.
He also mentioned that some rich countries, who talks big about human rights issue, poured 24 billion US dollar through seven banks as bank guarantee to Myanmar government.
“I have told the officials concerned in the UN that this is an act of double standard,” he said.
Responding to a question the foreign minister said that despite repeated query from Bangladesh, countries including Canada declined to provide the list of the Bangladeshi people who bought assets there.
We heard a lot of stories about siphoning of money to Canada by Bangladeshis but the Canadian authorities said that they cannot disclose the names due to the privacy law.
The same thing happens in regards to Switzerland. They report that deposits by Bangladeshi people in Swiss banks, is increasing but when we ask for the list they decline to give it citing rules, the minister explained.
“So getting the list of the people, who laundered money out of the country, is tough legally”.
He also expressed his frustration about not getting the information on the whereabouts of three killers of Bangabandhu who are reportedly hiding abroad.
We have also offered award in exchange for the information but none come forward so far, Dr Momen said.