Last week, leading newspapers started reporting that the World Bank has sent a ‘proposal’ to Bangladesh for integrating the Rohingya refugees. Obviously it created a huge fervor online. Both MoFA and the foreign minister of Bangladesh was quick to respond by announcing that Bangladesh had officially ‘rejected’ the WB ‘proposal’. It was also added that “We [govt.] are sure they [World Bank] will put pressure on us. But the reality is they do not pay us for the burden” (TBS 2/8/21).
But within days, the World Bank clarified their position by saying there was no proposal or pressure from them about Rohingya integration. Upon further investigation, the actual scenario quickly became clear.
WB has prepared a framework for countries hosting refugees for improving effectiveness of the grants and the management of the refugees.
This framework is NOT Bangladesh specific and maintains “no one-size-fits-all” principle.
The framework was sent to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) early July 2021.
The ERD then sent it to some of the line ministries, including foreign ministry, for opinions. (When asked about it by the Daily Star, Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal said he was not aware of the issue.)
We can say that this was a case of policy miscommunication.
International organizations, think tanks, CSOs etc. often create such evidence-based crucial reports for the government and other actors. As state actors (e.g. – MPs, Ministers) are busy people, it is often not possible for them to go through every 500 page report among a myriad of other tasks. Besides, the messages can easily get distorted and lost while it passes through multiple ministries over the course of months.