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Foreign minister: Rohingyas staying longer may create political uncertainty

  • Published at 10:52 pm July 25th, 2019
File photo of Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen Collected

'Everyone is talking about the environmental and economic impacts due to the Rohingya influx, but not about the political impact'

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said that the Rohingya refugees staying in Bangladesh any longer might lead to political uncertainty.

“Everyone is talking about the environmental and economic impacts due to the Rohingya influx, but not about the political impact," he said, adding that this might eventually lead to a rise in terrorism and extremism in the region.

The minister came up with the statement at the dissemination ceremony of a report titled "The Rohingya refugee crisis and its impact on the host community," held at the Brac Inn in Dhaka.

The Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) conducted the research with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Claiming Myanmar to be a friendly country, the foreign minister said: “Myanmar should take the Rohingya refugees back to serve their own purpose. Myanmar has a shortage of labourers and these Rohingya people can solve that problem.” 

He added that countries investing in Myanmar, like China and Japan, should ask them to take back the Rohingyas since their projects may be negatively affected if the refugee crisis creates further political uncertainty.

"If any country wants to take the refugees, then we will welcome them," the minister said, adding that it was difficult for Bangladesh to keep them for so long. 

Momen stated that countries like Russia and China have promised to keep the pressure on Myanmar to take the Rohingya refugees back, and both countries have agreed that the Rohingya people should return to their own country.

"Myanmar is willing to them [Rohingyas] back due to the international pressure," he added. 

As NGOs and INGOs are recruiting local people for assistance, hundreds of college students have left their classes, leading to a major negative impact in Bangladesh's development, he added.

Report findings

According to the report, prices of all essential food items have risen by up to 50% since the refugee influx began.

"With only 0.3% of global output, Bangladesh is now hosting 4.7% of the world's refugee population," said Zaidi Sattar, chairman of PRI.

Living conditions and livelihoods of the host communities have also been seriously affected. "Due to the Rohingya influx, 2,500 households fell below the poverty line while 1,300 more became vulnerable," the report added.

One of the consequences that have been most widely recognized is falling wages for day labourers.

"Environmental impact is the biggest calamity due to the influx," the study found. About 5,500 acres of reserved forest worth $55 million have been already destroyed along with 1,500 hectares of wildlife habitat.

Sewage disposal has also been a big challenge as rivers and canals got contaminated.

Among others, CR Abrar, professor of International Relations Department of Dhaka University and Meghna Guhathakurta, director of Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB) attended at the event as panel speakers.

PRI Research Director MA Razzaque presented the key note paper while Chairman Zaidi Sattar chaired the session.