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Rohingya crisis: Govt efforts remain ineffective with Dhaka not in control

  • Published at 11:48 pm June 11th, 2019
web-makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar
This photo taken recently shows a makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Foreign minister briefs foreign diplomats Wednesday

The efforts of the government to find a solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis are yet to see any fruition, mainly because the government is not in control of the matter.

However, without being any party to the crisis, which only involves Myanmar and its people, Bangladesh continues to pay a heavy price in many ways.

Since the latest phase of the crisis began in late August, 2017, Bangladesh has been extensively engaged bilaterally with Myanmar, the country’s second neighbour, the international community, and the United Nations system, to send back hundreds of thousands of persecuted Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine. 

But due to the unwillingness of Myanmar to take the Rohingyas back, it has not been possible so far.

Of course, Dhaka failed to secure the support of the main backers of Myanmar in the international forums – China, Russia, and India – despite having significant economic engagements with these three countries. 

Although, China, Russia, and India have economic ties worth billions of dollars, the fact remains that Bangladesh has failed to prove itself more important than Myanmar to these countries, which can make a difference in resolving the crisis.

As part of the government’s continued efforts, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen will brief the heads of foreign diplomatic missions on the ongoing crisis in Dhaka today, at  state guest house Padma .

According to concerned Foreign Ministry officials, the briefing is intended to apprise foreign diplomats of the latest situation and some developments that have taken place since the last briefing in January.

“It has been a while since diplomats were last briefed and there have been some developments since then. So the minister felt it necessary to hold the briefing,” said a senior official.

Diplomats will be informed of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s announcement to visit China to talk about the Rohingya issue, the foreign minister’s April visit to Russia, the call of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the Gambia-led ad-hoc ministerial committee to initiate a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and many other aspects, said the official.

The foreign minister is all but certain to reiterate Dhaka’s call upon the international community to exert more pressure on Myanmar so that it takes back its people sheltered in Cox’s Bazar who fled to escape the brutality of their own security forces, local Buddhist vigilantes, and other ethnic groups in Rakhine, said another official.

“As you know, the flow of funding under the 2019 joint response plan is slow. So the minister might touch upon that issue as well, reminding the international community of their obligation to maintain funds to look after these persecuted people,” he said. 

“He [the foreign minister] is expected to tell the diplomats that the solution to the Rohingya crisis is important not only for Bangladesh and Myanmar, but also for the region and the wider world,” he added.

About the apparent ineffectiveness of the efforts made so far  by Bangladesh, a top official said: “It’s true that there have been no major achievements. Maybe our achievements are not sufficient in the eyes of the people. Sometimes, diplomacy is painstakingly slow and sometimes achievements are not visible.”

“Having said that, I have to say that we can try but we do not control the situation. What can you possibly do if the ball is not in your court?” he said.

Without mentioning any names, he added: “It is really unfortunate to see that some countries consider geopolitical and economic interests to be more important than humanity.”