'It’s impossible for a country like Bangladesh to have such huge number of refugees'
Foreign ministers of Germany, Sweden and Japan, after visiting Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar yesterday, have agreed to strongly raise the issue at the 13th Asian European Foreign Ministers Meeting (ASEM) slated to take place in Myanmar’s Naypyidaw on November 20-21.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam has confirmed to the media at Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar.
He said: “The visiting foreign ministers will put pressure on Myanmar to take back the refugees during the upcoming ASEM summit. The delegates also thanked Bangladesh government for its effort to sort out a long-term solution to this crisis despite having limited resources.”
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and European Union’s (EU) High Representative Federica Mogherini visited the Rohingya camps on Sunday before heading to the ASEM summit.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali accompanied the dignitaries during their visit.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “People of Bangladesh did an amazing job with their hospitality. It is very fortunate that there is no fighting between the host community and the refugees.
“It’s impossible for a country like Bangladesh to have such huge number of refugees. We need a favourable condition for those who fled Myanmar to go back.
“Thus we have to ensure a safe environment there. The international community is responsible for helping both the refugees and the local communities.”
When asked what role they are going to play on part of the world’s largest refugee crisis, the German foreign minister said: “That’s the reason we are here to determine our role ahead of the summit with other colleagues from Japan, Sweden and the European Union. We are going to have a discussion about the situation in Bangladesh in the ASEM summit.”
“It’s necessary that there will give a strong signal at the ASEM summit together with the European Union to find a solution for the refugees to return home.”
During their visit, the foreign ministers spoke to some Rohingyasabout their experience in Rakhine, Myanmar.
The delegates also spoke to Rohingya children and visited mobile hospitals and medical camps of different NGOs and aid providers. They were saddened upon hearing stories of horrific torture suffered in Myanmar.
They have also witnessed the humanitarian operations by the government of Bangladesh, UN agencies and local and international NGOs.
The delegates are expected to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after their return from Cox’s Bazar.
The combined visit of four high-level delegations is the first of its kind since the latest phase of the crisis unfolded in August.
The visit is expected to garner further international support for the Rohingya community. Bangladesh has been providing over a million forcibly displaced Rohingya people with shelter and humanitarian support.