Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday sought global support through "close partnership and collaboration" to achieve Bangladesh's development goals addressing challenges ahead, including a solution to the Rohingya crisis.
"I believe in partnership… I believe in collaboration. We need your help and support to achieve our goals," he said adding that he has no reason not to believe that Bangladesh can achieve its development goals ahead.
The Foreign Minister was addressing a function titled 'Special Briefing on Contemporary and Political Issues' at a city hotel on Thursday night.
International Affairs Sub Committee of Bangladesh Awami League arranged the briefing for diplomats stationed in Dhaka.
AL International Affairs Secretary Dr Shammi Ahmed delivered the welcome address before the question-answer session.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni and Chairman of the Sub-Committee Ambassador Muhammad Zamir and Prime Minister's Special Assistant Shah Ali Farhad were, among others, present.
The Foreign Minister described the challenges ahead, including climate change, and sought international community's support to address those challenges saying Bangladesh cannot do it alone.
He said Bangladesh seeks close partnership and collaboration from the global community as its resources are not adequate enough.
On Rohingya issue, he urged the international community to put more pressure on Myanmar and use their leverage so that Myanmar takes back its nationals from Bangladesh.
He said the longer stay of Rohingyas in Bangladesh might create pockets of radicalism posing threats to Bangladesh and beyond.
“It’s a big burden for us. If this problem is not resolved quickly, there’s all possibility of having pockets of radicalism,” said Dr Momen adding that terrorists know no boundary and they have no friends and country.
He said the problem is created by Myanmar and the solution to the crisis lies with Myanmar. “Bangladesh is ready to repatriate them but they don’t trust Myanmar government.”
Dr Momen said Bangladesh has requested Myanmar to create conducive environment in Rakhine State for the safe return of Rohingyas but Myanmar unfortunately failed to create the environment trust.
He said Bangladesh placed two proposals – to arrange a site visit to Rakhine by Rohingya leaders and monitor the repatriation and reintegration process by Myanmar’s friendly countries and Asean-plus. “Myanmar neither accepts nor rejects our proposals.”
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled Rakhine state after being persecuted by their own country.
Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years but Myanmar, rather in its attempt to “mislead” the international community, claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh.
Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar failed to remove trust deficit among the Rohingyas and there was lack of conducive environment in Rakhine for their return.
Bangladesh has given shelter to forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar on 6,800 acres of forest land in Cox’s Bazar and their presence is "affecting ecosystem".
Dr Momen laid emphasis on the voluntary return of Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine state with safety, security and dignity which he thinks the only solution to the crisis.
Bangladesh, as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, has also become one of the most resilient countries. “We’ve few challenges. One big challenge is climate change. We need everybody’s help. We need global consciousness.”
Dr Momen said a one-metre rise in sea-level is likely to uproot nearly 30 million people of Bangladesh and climate vulnerability is costing nearly 1-3 percent of the country’s annual GDP growth rate.
The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh is doing very well in terms of economic development with significant improvement in reducing poverty and income inequality. “If we follow the same path the way we’re moving, hopefully we’ll achieve our desired goals.”
He, however, said they need lots of investment, more exports with its diversification to make the best use of human resources.
“These aren’t easy tasks. These are challenges. Our own resources aren’t enough. In that areas, we would need help from our partners,” Dr Momen said emphasising close partnership with the friendly countries, governments and private sectors.
Shammi Ahmed said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, over the past 10 years, has put the development at the centre of politics.
She highlighted the achievements made under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, including her humanitarian role in sheltering Rohingyas.
A video documentary on Sheikh Hasina was also screened for the diplomats.