It has been encouraging to see that the Prime minister Sheikh Hasina-led delegation in France have opened talks with the French government to take the Rohingya issue to the UN Security Council, of which the country is a permanent member.
The fact that French leaders in turn assured the PM that it will continue to support Bangladesh is a welcome sign, although it remains to be seen whether they remain true to their words. Nevertheless, this is a sign of good diplomacy on our part, and an important step toward building renewed international support for Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue, something that has been missing ever since the beginning of the crisis.
France has been a natural ally of Bangladesh in relation to the Rohingya issue, and supports the peaceful repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. France is also among the notable donors, having donated 400,000 euros to support life-saving nutrition activities for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, as early as in May 2018. French President Emmanuel Macron also described the 2017-onward events as “genocide” and “ethnic purification.” During this state visit, the French side assured to “remain beside” Bangladesh until there is a complete solution to the crisis.
Given that both countries agree on peaceful repatriation -- the Bangladesh government’s most pressing priority -- and the fact that French leaders have been so forthcoming about their support, it seems all the ingredients are there to build up a strategic partnership on the issue. Thankfully, Bangladesh seems to have taken the first diplomatic step to work toward this and it will be in our best interest to pursue an actual strategic partnership toward a solution.
It is unrealistic to expect any singular measure to solve one of the most severe humanitarian crises on the planet. But when it comes to international politics, it is always prudent to create strong partnerships based around shared objectives.