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Shahriar: Govt yet to bilaterally engage with Myanmar after polls

  • Published at 01:03 am February 20th, 2019
M Shahriar Alam-Penny Mordaunt
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam talking to reporters after his meeting with British Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt at the state guesthouse Padma in Dhaka’s Eskaton on Tuesday; February 19, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Right to return, and justice, should not fall off int’l agenda, says UK Secretary

The government is yet to engage with Myanmar bilaterally on the ongoing Rohingya crisis after the polls on December 30, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said.

After a meeting with visiting British Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, at the Padma State Guest House  on Tuesday, Shahriar told reporters that at present, the government is multilaterally active in relation to the crisis. 

The state minister also said the government has reviewed the situation anew and developed ‘a few strategies,’ but he would not elaborate, saying that the implementation would be visible soon.

UK Secretary Mordaunt said that the rights to return, of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh, and justice in dealing with the perpetrators of the atrocities committed against them, should not drop off the international agenda.

She deeply appreciated Bangladesh for the generosity it has shown by providing the Rohingyas shelter and assured of continued diplomatic and financial support.

“Bilateral activities have not yet started after the elections. But, our activities are there, multilaterally,” said Shahriar, referring to the meeting with the UK Secretary, his recent tour to Switzerland in connection with the launching of the joint response plan, and briefing  ambassadors of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Reviewing the situation anew, we have formulated some strategies. You will soon see the implementation of these strategies,” he said.

“I think it is incredibly important to ensure that the rights of the Rohingyas to return home don’t drop off the international agenda, nor the importance of seeking justice for what they endured,” Secretary Mordaunt said.

In addition to the right to return to their homes in Rakhine and justice, there has to be a condition that will ensure protection, safety, and security, she said, adding that she does not believe that the condition is right for the repatriation of the persecuted people at the moment.

When asked if the international community would undertake any result-oriented plan for the repatriation, the British secretary, who went to Cox’s Bazar on Monday after returning from Myanmar, said: “We need to focus on practical things. Ultimately, we all share the same view; that is, the Rohingyas want to return home. Everyone wants that.”

“For this, certain things need to happen. We are focused on doing those things. And, we all are working for that, so that they are protected,” she said.

In the meantime, she added that support for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and their host communities would continue.

Placing great emphasis on ensuring access to the affected areas in Rakhine, Mordaunt said that the UK government has stopped some projects in Myanmar and shifted the resources to be utilized for the most vulnerable.

“Our message was clear, that human rights are at the heart of the programs we finance,” she said, stressing that the UK prime minister is very clear in ensuring that justice is served and people who committed those atrocities are held to account.

“I think certainly this is incredibly important for the Rohingyas and we will use every diplomatic tool at our disposal to ensure that those things happen,” said the secretary.