'Why should Bangladesh force them to leave the country after giving them shelter?'
Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali on Thursday said the Rohingyas living in Bangladesh will not be forcibly repatriated to Myanmar.
"There's a negative campaign that Bangladesh is forcing the Rohingyas to go back to their homeland. Why should Bangladesh force them to leave the country after giving them shelter? Forcibly sending them back to Myanmar is out of the question," he said.
The minister made the remarks while speaking to reporters after briefing diplomats on the status of the Rohingya repatriation process at the state guest house Padma, reports UNB.
Japan has proposed to take camp heads (Majhi) to Rakhine state with the help of UNHCR to assess the situation there, and the government is working on this proposal, AH Mahmood Ali added.
Replying to a question whether Rohingya repatriation has been postponed, he said it could not take place as the Rohingyas had declined to go back home at this time.
The minister further said the repatriation process would begin later, however, he did not give a specific answer when asked when it would begin again. "Bangladesh is continuing its efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis through discussion."
He said India has already built 250 houses for the Rohingyas who will be repatriated in Myanmar. "They informed us that they are going to build 500 more houses."
The minister also said both China and India had been asked to construct the houses for the Rohingya in the areas from where they were originally evicted.
China is also constructing 1,000 houses in Myanmar for the Rohingyas to be repatriated there, he added.
Speaking to reporters after the briefing, UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo said the United Nations welcomed Bangladesh's decision to stick to the principle of voluntary return to Myanmar for Rohingyas.
"It's Myanmar's responsibility to make sure Rohingyas have enough trust to return to their homeland, and to have enough trust to believe what have happened to them would not be repeated," she added.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla said: ""As far as we're concerned, India has called for the safe, speedy and sustainable return of the displaced persons."
He added that India has already provided relief materials for the Rohingyas thrice, and they will also send blankets, sweaters and solar panels to the Rohingya camps during the winter.
Meanwhile, AH Mahmood Ali said that they also briefed the diplomats on the announcement of the new date for the national election, and the Prime Minister's dialogues with various political parties and alliances, including Jatiya Oikya Front.
He said the foreign envoys seemed to be happy with the progress of the election, and they were also informed about Tuesday's clash between police and BNP in Naya Paltan.
Replying to a question, the minister said some countries are interested in sending election observers to monitor the general election, and they had been asked to approach the Election Commission.
Earlier, the foreign minister began briefing diplomats at the state guest house Padma around 4:30pm.
On Wednesday, Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam said: "The final decision [on repatriation] will be taken after receiving the UNHCR report. We are waiting for the report."