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Bangladesh, EU to fight terror together

DHAKA, May 11, 2017 (BSS) - Bangladesh and European Union (EU) will work closely to combat terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organized traffickers and illegal migration.

This was affirmed as Law Minister Anisul Huq and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam met separately with Vice-Chair of the European Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Christian Dan Preda and European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos in Brussels on Wednesday.

During the meetings, the EU leaders expressed EU's readiness to finance projects aimed at skills development and livelihood programme for the returnees from different EU countries, according to a message received here today.

The Bangladesh law minister briefed Preda about the significant development that happened in human rights as well as law and order situation in Bangladesh and said that the present government of Bangladesh has been attaching utmost priority to ensuring rights of the people including women and girls.

Referring to labour rights and freedom of association, he apprised his EU counterparts that the draft EPZ Law has been withdrawn from the Parliament for further review, in consultations with all stakeholders.

Both MEP Preda and Commissioner Avramopoulos highly appreciated such initiatives by the Bangladesh government.

State Minister Alam thanked the EU for extending support for electoral reform in Bangladesh to modernise the election process.

Bangladesh side also briefed about the formation of the new Election Commission after wide ranging consultations with all stakeholders including opposition parties outside the parliament.

At the meeting with the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, Bangladesh ministers reassured the European Commission that the country is determined to do everything for repatriation of irregular Bangladeshis living anywhere in the world.

Referring to almost 10 million strong skilled and semi-skilled expatriate Bangladeshi workers, Anisul Huq firmly conveyed that Bangladesh always promotes safe, orderly and regular migration.

"Under no circumstances, Bangladesh would jeopardize its overseas (including EU) labour market through irregular migration," he added.

The EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship observed that demonstration of strong political will and determination now in solving the issue of irregular Bangladeshis in EU countries would keep the EU door open for future regular migration.

He informed that in 2016 some 20,000 Bangladeshis got registered in different EU countries.

He also mentioned about EU's readiness to finance projects aimed at skills development and livelihood programme for the returnees.

State Minister Shahriar Alam conveyed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's strong political will and directives for making arrangement to repatriate any Bangladeshi national who is in irregular situation anywhere in the world. Referring to recent surge in migrants from Bangladesh through the Mediterranean channel, the Bangladesh law minister informed that sustained precarious security situations in Libya is forcing Bangladeshis, who have been living there for long time, to take such difficult and dangerous route to reach European shores.

In that context, he noted the role of unscrupulous organized international trafficking networks.

Agreeing with the Bangladesh delegation's observation, Commissioner Avramopoulos emphasized the need for close collaborative efforts to combat these transnational organized traffickers and expressed willingness to work closely with Bangladesh in that regard.

Referring to the gross violation of human rights of the Muslim population of the Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, the Bangladesh side sought sustained and strong EU support to resolve the Rohingya refugee issue.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Belgium and EU Mohammed Shahadat Hossian and DG (Europe) Mohammad Khorshed A. Khastagir, among others, were present in the meetings.