PM stresses timely, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

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She continued: “We cannot but emphasize more on the importance of leveraging science, technology and innovation for closing the digital divide and mobilizing resources and technology transfer.”

The prime minister said many of Bangladeshi migrant workers have lost their jobs during the pandemic, while many have been sent back home.

“We have allocated US$ 361 million for the returnee migrant workers. It is critical to help them regain employment in the post-COVID job market … I urge the international community and migrant receiving countries to treat migrant workers fairly and with empathy during the crisis,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said it is also crucial that graduating LDCs and recently graduated ones are accorded scaled-up international support and incentive packages in the transition and post-transition phases to minimize the pandemic-triggered impediments.

She paid tribute to all frontline fighters including health workers and public servants who are working tirelessly to ensure safety of the COVID-19-affected countries and population. “I also commend the United Nations Secretary-General for his bold leadership and multilateral efforts during this crisis,” she said.

The prime minister said the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the pre-existing vulnerabilities of climate-vulnerable countries. “In Bangladesh, we are dealing with the dual impact of recent floods and the cyclone Amphan even during the pandemic,” she said.

As the current president of the CVF and the V-20 Group of Ministers of Finance, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would lead the forum to map out a sustainable and climate-resilient pathway out of the crisis.

“We also stand ready to contribute to securing a constructive and productive outcome in the Glasgow COP,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action has helped the international community come a long way to ensure gender equality.

“As we are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Declaration, we need to strengthen our resolve and mutual cooperation to address all the critical areas of concern,” she said.

About the women empowerment, the prime minister said Bangladesh has closed 72.6 per cent of its overall gender gap. “Women’s contribution remains at the core of our national development. They are also at the forefront of pandemic response and recovery efforts,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is implementing special programmes for the development of children. “As the current President of the UNICEF Executive Board, we are leading efforts to address the existing disparity. At the same time, we remain vigilant to ensure that this health crisis does not turn into a children’s crisis,” she said.

Pointing to the country’s foreign policy, the prime minister said “Friendship to all and malice to none” is the fundamental principle of Bangladesh’s foreign policy.

Inspired by this foreign policy dictum, she said, Bangladesh has been consistently contributing to international peace and security and the establishment of a Culture of Peace.

“During the pandemic, we see the rise of hate speech, xenophobia, and intolerance. Embracing the spirit of a ‘Culture of Peace’ can help address these worrying trends,” Sheikh Hasina said.

Sheikh Hasina said currently, Bangladesh is the largest troops and police-contributing country in the world to the peacekeeping missions.

“Our peacekeepers are putting their lives on the line to secure and sustain peace in conflict-ravaged countries. International community must ensure their safety and security,” she said.

The prime minister called for due recognition of women’s role in peace and security, saying: “This year we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.”

“As one of its original proponents, we call for due recognition of women’s role in peace and security. We have already formulated a national action plan in this regard,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s unflinching commitment to peace has resulted in the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and violent extremism.

The prime minister said Bangladesh consistently and strongly supports the global quest for a nuclear weapons free world. “To that end, we support the aspirations of developing countries to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear technology,” she said.

“Our painful experience and the worst form of genocide and crimes against humanity that our nation had to endure during our struggle for independence motivated us to support the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed aggravated existing global challenges and it has also reinforced the indispensability of multilateralism.

The prime minister said on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, Bangladesh’s commitment to multilateralism as embodied in the UN Charter remains unflinching.

“At the national level, despite numerous challenges, we are committed to upholding the values of multilateralism and working towards building a “Sonar Bangla” free of poverty and exploitation based on democratic principles with full enjoyment of human rights, as envisioned by the Father of our Nation,” she said.

“On the birth centenary of our Father of the Nation, this is our pledge to our nation and to the world,” Sheikh Hasina added.

At the outset of her speech, the prime minister congratulated Volkan Bozkir on his election as the president of the 75th UNGA.

Sheikh Hasina said the UN General Assembly Hall evokes deep emotions in her. “From this very hall in 1974, my father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered a speech for the first time in Bangla as the head of the government of a newly independent country,” she said.

The prime minister said she had the privilege of attending the General Assembly Sessions in-person for 16 times. “I emphasized world peace and solidarity in all my speeches. As a head of government, this year I am delivering my 17th speech in the Assembly,” she said.

She said Bangladesh was among the first rank of countries to endorse the UN Secretary-General’s various initiatives, including his global ceasefire appeal.

Paying profound homage to Bangabandhu, the prime minister said Bangabandhu taught the Bangalee nation to stand firm in the world by ending exploitation, deprivation and oppression.

“Following his footsteps, we have been able to secure a respectable position for Bangladesh in the Comity of Nation,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina, the elder daughter of Bangabandhu, said: “From this august Assembly he (Bangabandhu) declared — the noble ideals enshrined in the United Nations Charter are the very ideals for which millions of our people have made the supreme sacrifice. ….the Bangalee nation fully commits itself to the building of a world order, in which the aspiration of all men for peace and justice will be realized.”

Bangabandhu’s statement was indeed a bold expression for multilateralism, the prime minister said, adding: “The reflection that Bangabandhu made in 1974 continues to remain equally relevant even today, as we grapple with the current crisis.”

Sheikh Hasina said this year is particularly significant for the Bangalee nation, as it is celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of our Nation.

“Our reflection on his life, struggle, and sacrifice and celebration of his achievements, is a source of our encouragement for brighter future and give us the hope to cope with the challenge of COVID-19,” she said.

“On the birth centenary, we, on behalf of all deprived people and nations, pay rich tribute to Bangabandhu,” she added.

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