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  23 Sep 2021, 08:43
Update : 23 Sep 2021, 11:23

Global inaction over Rohingya repatriation shocks Bangladesh: PM

 NEW YORK, Sept 23, 2021 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has demanded
intensified global actions with "real urgency" to repatriate Rohingyas,
saying major international powers inaction over the crisis shocked Bangladesh
as it extended them makeshift refuge on humanitarian grounds, straining the
country's resources.

  "As I repeatedly said they (Rohingyas) are Myanmar nationals and hence,
they must go back to their homeland, Myanmar, in safety and dignity," she
told a high-level interaction of global stakeholders on the sidelines of the
UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York on Tuesday afternoon
(Bangladesh Time early today).

  Sheikh Hasina insisted that the issue was a matter of regional and global
security concerns and therefore it needed urgent resolution while "I would
like to emphasize that whatever we are doing in Bangladesh is purely on a
temporary basis".

  She said the international community "must do everything possible to make
sure the Rohingyas return to their homeland as they themselves also wish to
return to their home".

  Simultaneously, the premier put her weight towards the campaign to expose
to justice the people responsible for persecution of the minority Rohingya
community for the sake of justice and infusing a sense of confidence among
the victim population in returning their home.

  The virtual meeting titled "High-Level Side Event on Forcibly Displaced
Myanmar Nationals (Rohingya) crisis: Imperatives for a Sustainable Solution"
was held under Bangladesh auspices ahead of the premier's scheduled UNGA
address on September 24.

  Officials concerned said Bangladesh organized the meeting as part of
Dhaka's efforts to highlight the crisis in the main UNGA general debate while
the country's permanent representative to the United Nations Rabab Fatima
moderated the event.

  The meeting was cosponsored by eight cross-regional countries and
organisations including United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey,
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and European Union (EU).

 

  The premier said since that mass exodus in 2017, at all the successive
UNGAs, she placed specific proposals for a sustainable solution to the crisis
while "my government has maintained bilateral engagements with Myanmar".

  "At the regional front, we have tried to take on board the major powers,
including China and India. We have all along tried to have more active
involvement of the ASEAN," Sheikh Hasina said.

  "At the multilateral front, we kept the issue on the table by UN
resolutions engaging important countries and the UN agencies but sadly our
efforts for the hapless, uprooted Myanmar Nationals returning home to Myanmar
has not generated any tangible outcome yet," she said.

  "Till today, not a single one of them could go back to their homeland," she
added.

  Sheikh Hasina said for the last four years, Bangladesh awaited with high
hopes that these displaced people could go back to their own homes in their
motherland Myanmar in safety, security and dignity, reposing "our trust in
the global assembly and community for their repatriation".

   "However, our calls have remained unheeded and our hopes unfulfilled. We
are now in the fifth year of the crisis. Yet, we still hold the hope for a
durable solution to this crisis," she said.

   The premier said resolving this humanitarian crisis appeared a collective
responsibility as its implication goes beyond borders and warned that any
failure in doing so immediately would "jeopardize our collective security".

   "The growing frustration over the lack of progress in repatriation entices
many to get involved in criminal activities, and they are easy prey to
extremist ideologies. This could potentially destabilize the entire region,"
she said.

   The prime minister suggested a five-point international course of action
to resolve the crisis with the first one being investment of "all our
efforts" as the top priority.

   Secondly, she said, the changed political scenario in Myanmar created
uncertainty in the repatriation process, requiring a revision in
international efforts to find a resolution of this crisis.

   Sheikh Hasina sought enhanced efforts of ASEAN in the current perspective
as "we believe the ASEAN has an important responsibility" when its actions
would largely influence Myanmar in view of the present situation.

   "Fourthly, we must remember humanitarian assistance is essential but in no
way a permanent solution. The UN and the partners must undertake tangible
actions and projects in Myanmar to create an environment conducive for
repatriation and their sustainability," she said.

   The premier added: "So far, we have not seen any such progress".

   Sheikh Hasina said accountability for the persecution committed against
the Rohingyas was important to create confidence among this forcibly
displaced population.

  "Impunity for such heinous crime should not be allowed on all accounts,"
she said, adding Bangladesh extended its support to the ongoing international
efforts to ensure the persecutors accountability particularly in the
International Court of Justice (ICJ).

   The premier also sought louder global supports to other international
mechanisms created by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

   She said at the start of the Rohingya exodus in 2017 to evade persecution
at Myanmar's Rakhine Province bordering Bangladesh "our choice was to save
their lives or to close the border and let them face ethnic cleansing".

   "We chose to save their lives for the sake of humanity," Sheikh Hasina
said.

   This humane decision, she said, was based on Bangladesh peoples own
painful experience during the 1971 Liberation War and inspired by the guiding
principle laid out by the country's Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman.

   "The very struggle of Bangladesh symbolized the universal struggle for
peace and justice. It was, therefore, only natural that Bangladesh, from its
very inception, should stand firmly by the side of the oppressed people of
the world," she quoted Bangabandhu.

   Turning to pending repatriation, she said, Bangladesh ensured all
necessary arrangements to make Rohingyas temporary stay safe and secure,
despite resource and land constraints.

  "The prolong stay of such a large population in a congested area is also
having serious impacts on the surrounding environment and ecology. Hills and
forest lands have been cut down to provide shelters," she said.

   Even in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic challenges, "we have not
forgotten to ensure the safety and welfare of the Rohingyas. We have remained
faithful to our conviction that no one is safe until each one of us is safe.
We have included this population in our national vaccination program," she
added.

   The prime minister said Bangladesh developed an island called Bhasan Char
covering an area of 13,000 acres in the South of the country to de-congest
the over-crowded camps in Cox's Bazar.

  "We spent over US$ 350 million from our own budget to develop this
settlement," she said.

   OIC secretary general, foreign ministers of Gambia, Indonesia and Turkey,
British junior foreign minister on South Asia, UN secretary general's special
envoy on Myanmar and permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN,
among others, addressed the event.

   In a media briefing later foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said high
profile representatives including foreign ministers of 23 cross-regional
countries and organizations strongly extended their supports to the premier's
statement.

  Momen said according to their statements the Afghan crisis or any other
developments must not side track the Rohingya issue.

  He said Dhaka managed to engage China as a major mediator to ensure safe
and dignified Rohingya repatriation while they awaited the new military
regime there to stabilize, ahead of proceeding with the issue with Burma.

 

 

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