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Singapore minister: Long, arduous road ahead on Rohingya repatriation

  • Published at 12:28 pm November 5th, 2018
UNB
Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visits a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday, November 4, 2018 Courtesy

Dr Balakrishnan mentioned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a courageous leader who has made great sacrifices for her country
 
 

Singaporean Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has said though Bangladesh and Myanmar are having discussions on the commencement of repatriation, it would not be an easy process.

“The road ahead is long and arduous. Many details have to be sorted out first to ensure voluntary, safe, secure and dignified repatriation,” he said while wrapping up his two-day visit to Bangladesh on Monday, reports UNB.

Dr Balakrishnan is set to begin his Myanmar visit on Monday, and will discuss the Rohingya repatriation issue with top officials in Nay Pyi Taw.

After his visit to Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar on Sunday, he said the current situation is not sustainable.
 
“The refugees I spoke to all want to return home to Myanmar. Their prime concern is for their children’s future,” said the Singaporean minister.

He visited the Rohingya camps at the Kutupalong-Balukhali expansion site and the zero line with his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali.  

There are some twenty camps, stretching across the horizon.

Dr Balakrishnan on his verified Facebook page wrote that the government and people of Bangladesh have been “absolutely wonderful” in providing humanitarian support for a million Rohingyas under very difficult conditions. 

International agencies are also actively providing essential assistance, said the minister, adding that Singapore has contributed financial and humanitarian aid too.

Before his visit to Cox's Bazar, he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday.

They reaffirmed the two countries’ close bilateral ties and economic cooperation, which have been expanding steadily since diplomatic relations were established in 1972. 

Today, Singapore is Bangladesh’s fourth largest source of foreign direct investment, and its companies are showing increasing interest in the growing Bangladeshi market, particularly in the power, connectivity and infrastructure sectors.

Dr Balakrishnan mentioned Prime Minister Hasina as a “courageous leader” who has made great sacrifices for her country. 

The Singaporean minister said Bangladesh has made great strides under her leadership. “I hope that our bilateral cooperation will continue to strengthen.”

During another meeting with Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali, they reviewed the strong bilateral relations and close cooperation between the two nations. 

Minister Ali also briefed him on the status of Rohingyas and their repatriation process, which will hopefully begin soon.

They both emphasized the need to do so in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner. 

Meanwhile, the Singaporean minister also said ASEAN stands ready to support Bangladesh and Myanmar in finding a long-term solution.

ASEAN consists of ten ASEAN Member States (AMS), namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.