Bangladesh has said the OIC Member States require a regional and global response based on unity, solidarity and compassion to overcome the challenges of this pandemic.
“Intensified global and regional cooperation is needed not only to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic but also to overcome the economic hurdles left by this crisis,” said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
The Foreign Minister made the remarks while delivering his statement at a videoconference of the OIC Executive Committee at the level of Foreign Ministers on the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic and joint response on Wednesday.
Taking note of the vulnerability of migrant workers across the globe, particularly in the Middle East and other OIC Member States, Dr Momen urged the members to give utmost importance to the issue of job retention of domestic and resident migrant workers, especially Muslim migrant workers, so that sudden shock of unemployment can be cushioned off and the social balance can be preserved.
He said a voluntary “COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund” may be created by the willing OIC member countries, independent of the efforts put in place by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Islamic Solidary Fund (ISF). In the future, Dr Momen said, long-term assistance would be needed to revive the economic devastation caused by COVID 19.
“In this regard, I thank the IsDB for already laying out US$ 2.3 billion funding for Strategic Preparedness and Response Programme for COVID-19 pandemic. We hope, IsDB would allow softer terms for such loans, particularly for LDCs,” Dr Momen said.
He said more developed Member States of the OIC may assist the LDCs and other developing OIC member states by supplying medical equipment and supplies in treating the COVID-19 patients.
Dr Momen said steady distribution of food and essential commodities amongst the most vulnerable groups, irrespective of their residency status, are of utmost importance now to protect lives.
“If the lockdown situation prolongs, starvation is imminent in many of the OIC Member States, including amongst the migrant workers who are under threat of losing their jobs and salaries,” he said.
Dr Momen said charity and philanthropic organisations in OIC Member States may be encouraged to extend assistances in countries and communities in need.
He said IsDB can actively consider deferral and cancellation of loan payments of the OIC borrowing countries especially from the LDCs.
Dr Momen said a voluntary “COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund” may be created by the willing OIC Member Countries, independent of the efforts put in place by the IsDB and ISF.
He said suitable projects may be submitted, particularly by LDCs in collaboration with charities/foundations, to seek assistance from the special account created under the ISF to help the vulnerable groups, including migrant workers – if they are not covered under the safety net programmes of the host governments.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, chaired the videoconference. Dr Momen thanked Turkey for taking the initiative for this Executive Committee Meeting.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already announced the largest ever financial and social safety assistance package in Bangladesh’s history covering our industrial workers, agriculture sector as well as frontlines key workers including doctors, nurses, health professionals, law enforcement and field-level people who are risking their lives to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is not only for maintaining our own macroeconomic stability – but also that the global supply chain does not break down.”The present members of the OIC Executive Committee at the level of Foreign Ministers are:
Turkey (immediate past summit chair), Saudi Arabia (present summit chair and host country), The Gambia (next summit chair), Bangladesh (immediate past CFM chair), UAE (present CFM chair) and Niger (next CFM chair).