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Foreign minister: Solution to Rohingya crisis lies with Myanmar

  • Published at 06:40 pm September 20th, 2018
AH Mahmood Ali Shahriar Alam
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, right, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Dhaka on Thursday; September 20, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

He said this while addressing a press briefing about Bangladesh’s UNGA 73 plan

The Rohingya issue originated in Myanmar and its resolution also lies within the country, Foreign Minister AHM Mahmood Ali said on Thursday.

He added that this solution was stated in the report by the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

The minister made the comments while addressing a press briefing about Bangladesh’s plan for the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) being held in New York, at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Dhaka.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, and Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque, also attended the press conference.

The foreign minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lead a 50-member delegation from Bangladesh at UNGA, and the premier focus heavily on the Rohingya crisis.

Citing previous incidents of airspace violations, troop deployments, and landmine-planting by the Myanmar Army, the foreign minister said: “Despite such attempts to create tension, we have remained calm. We have been holding talks for the peaceful repatriation of the Rohingya.”

He added that Bangladesh is working in line with the agreement signed with Myanmar to repatriate the displaced Rohingya refugees currently sheltered in Myanmar.

The foreign minister also claimed that Bangladesh was ready to repatriate the Rohingya refugees, and several sectors are working on the process. 

Regarding international sanctions on Myanmar, he said: “We cannot raise such a demand right away. It has to be a global concern.”

Bangladesh has to respond to Myanmar’s actions considering the its government’s stance, he added.  

AH Mahmood Ali further said that the reaction of all countries to international sanctions on Myanmar would not be the same, even though they all attested to Myanmar being the guilty party. “We are hopeful that we can repatriate the Rohingya the way we did in 1991-92, when around 2.5 million of them entered Bangladesh.”

Aiming to facilitate accommodation for the Rohingya who return, India has begun building homes for them in Myanmar, he told reporters.

“So far, 250 homes have been constructed,” he added.

China, Japan, and Indonesia are also expected to extend their support for the Rohingya, the minister said. “During the UNGA, I will try to get updates from the Chinese delegation on their position in this regard.”

Since August 26 last year, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have crossed into Bangladesh, fleeing a brutal crackdown by Myanmar's security forces. They joined over 400,000 other Rohingyas who were already living in squalid and cramped refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to reach the UN headquarters in New York on September 23. In addition to AH Mahmood Ali and Shahriar Alam, the minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, and the PM’s energy adviser, will be a part of the delegation.

At the UNGA, the premier will present the measures taken, and challenges to, resolving the Rohingya crisis. She is also scheduled to take part in a number of high-level meetings at the invitation of various heads of state—as well as leading global and regional organisations.

For her contribution and leadership during the Rohingya crisis, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also be conferred two awards. The Inter Press Service News Agency will present her with its International Achievement Award, while the Global Hope Coalition will honour her with the Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership award.