Cambodia has assured Bangladesh of its support within the framework of Asean as Dhaka sought Phnom Penh’s support for safe repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State.
The Rohingya issue was discussed at the first-ever Joint Commission (JC) meeting between Bangladesh and Cambodia held at State guesthouse Meghna in the city on Thursday.
“Myanmar is a member of Asean. Cambodia is also an active member and will enhance its talks with Myanmar using Asean platform for quick repatriation of Rohingyas. As a common friend of Bangladesh and Myanmar, they’ll play their role in the future,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam told reporters at a joint briefing after the meeting.
He said Bangladesh side raised the issue of trust deficit and laid emphasis on confidence-building measures creating congenial and peaceful environment in Rakhine.
Bangladesh side proposed using the Asean platform taking the civil society and political leadership which Cambodia assured of considering it “actively”.
State Minister Alam led an 18-member Bangladesh delegation at the JC meeting while from the Cambodian side a 27-member delegation was led by Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Eat Sophea.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand concurrently accredited to Cambodia Md. Nazmul Quaunine and Cambodian Ambassador to India concurrently accredited to Bangladesh UNG Sean also attended the JC meeting.
The Cambodian side was highly appreciative of the government of Bangladesh for providing shelter to the persecuted people from Rakhine State.
They hoped that Bangladesh’s bilateral consultations with Myanmar would lead an early solution to the problem.
The MoU establishing the JC framework was signed in Dhaka in June 2014 during the visit of the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The two sides comprehensively discussed the present state of bilateral relations covering areas such as trade and investment, agriculture and fisheries, science and technology, culture, defence, ICT, tourism, and parliamentary friendship.
Both sides stressed expanding bilateral trade and investment and sharing each other’s practices and strategies in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The two sides agreed that the Technical Working Group Meeting on training cooperation will be held in Dhaka soon.
To implement the MoU on tourism both sides decided to convene the first meeting of the Joint Working Group in Cambodia soon.
Both sides underscored the importance of direct air connectivity and stressed the need for early signing of the Air Services Agreement.
Bangladesh handed over to the Cambodian side a three-year Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) to celebrate the Mujib Year jointly in both countries.
It was agreed that the Liberation War Museum of Bangladesh and the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum of Cambodia would share best practices through arrangement of joint seminar and sharing of best practices.
Both sides welcomed the finalization of the proposed MoU on Defence Cooperation under which members of armed forces of both countries would take part in various training and capacity building programmes in both countries.
It was agreed that parliamentarians of two countries would take part in exchange programmes under the framework of the Bangladesh-Cambodia Parliamentary Friendship Group.
At the meeting an MoU on establishment of Foreign Office Consultations was also signed.
Javed Patel has joined the British High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh as the Deputy High Commissioner.
Prior to his appointment, Javed was the UK government’s Counter Terrorism and Extremism Coordinator for Europe, based in Brussels, according to British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Since joining the Foreign Office in 2007, he has held positions in the National Security, Middle-East and North Africa and Consular Directorates, as well as being posted to Baghdad, Iraq as Political Counsellor.
Javed’s career before arriving at the Foreign Office involved roles in the Home Office, including the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, and regional government.
His expertise is predominantly in national security, but also has a keen interest in public diplomacy, trade and climate change.
India on Thursday provided 1,000 sewing machines with pedals, 32 office tents, 32 rescue kits and 99 family tents for the Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar camps.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Riva Ganguly Das, on behalf of the people of India, handed over the relief assistance to State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman at a function held in Cox’s Bazar.
This is the 5th tranche of humanitarian assistance handed over by India to Bangladesh to support the government of Bangladesh’s humanitarian efforts, especially in skilling the forcibly-displaced Rohingya women from Myanmar and in handling natural calamities.
“As a friend and neighbour, India is always ready to stand by Bangladesh at times of challenge,” said the High Commission mentioning that India remains committed to supporting the people of Bangladesh in their humanitarian efforts.
India appreciated the generosity and humanitarian efforts of the government of Bangladesh in providing temporary shelter to the displaced persons from Myanmar.
This tranche of relief assistance was in line with the commitment India made during the official visit of Prime Minister of Sheikh Hasina to India on October 5, 2019.
These supplies are intended to support Bangladesh’s humanitarian efforts to shelter the displaced persons from Myanmar in temporary camps in Cox’s Bazar.
These relief materials will assist the officials of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry in skill development of forcibly displaced women from Myanmar and also to tide over the unforeseen natural calamities in the camps.
This assistance is part of a humanitarian relief programme that has been initiated by India since September 2017 by delivering a first consignment of 981 metric tonnes of relief supplies.
In May 2018, 373 MT of relief materials containing 104 MT milk powder, 102 MT dried fish, 61 MT baby food, 50,000 rain coats and 50,000 pairs of gum boots for the rainy season were handed over.
In September 2018, India supplied 1.1 million litres of Super Kerosene Oil and 20,000 Kerosene multi-wick stoves and the fourth tranche of assistance in December 2018 included 2,25,000 blankets, 2,00,000 woolen sweaters and 500 eco-friendly solar streetlights.
German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dr Gerd Muller has announced that development cooperation with Myanmar will be suspended until Myanmar allows Rohingyas to return to their homes in Rakhine State safely.
“Myanmar must do all it can to protect the Rohingyas and to facilitate their voluntary return,” he said wrapping up his two-day visit to Bangladesh on Wednesday.
Muller said the plight of the Rohingyas is turning into one of world's greatest tragedies – second only to that of the Syrian refugees.
He said the international community must act much more decisively in this matter, and take a greater interest in the Rohingya's fate, according to his statement.
He said Germany will use its development policy tools to step up its support for the Rohingya refugees and the communities hosting them.
The German minister said one million Rohingyas have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh and the majority of them live in the Kutupalong refugee camp – one of the largest in the world. “Many of the refugees are traumatised.”
On Tuesday, when Muller called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, she urged Germany to play a more active role over Rohingya issue. She also called on the international community to put more pressure on Myanmar to take back its nationals from Bangladesh.
During his meeting with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday, the German Minister expressed his country’s firm commitment to a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis and Myanmar’s full compliance with the recent order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Muller visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday to see the situation on the ground before leaving Dhaka for New Delhi.
Dr Momen requested Muller to consider meaningful measures compelling Myanmar for creating a conducive environment in Rakhine for safe, dignified and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced Rohingys, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas. Most of them fled their homes in Rakhine state when the Myanmar military and their collaborators launched a brutal offensive targeting the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority.
State-sponsored discrimination stretches back decades against Rohingyas who are denied citizenship by Myanmar despite having lived in the country for generations.
Before the visit, the German Minister said greater consumption in their part of the world must not be at the expense of workers' human rights in other parts of the world.
“We need to bring justice to globalisation. That is why we have introduced the Green Button as the first publicly endorsed certification mark. The Green Button is to help consumers in Germany to choose trousers, rucksacks or T-shirts, for example, that have been produced in compliance with social and environmental standards,” he said.
Bangladesh is the world's second biggest producer of textiles, and its largest customer for such goods is Germany.
Twenty-three more Bangladeshi nationals were evacuated from China’s Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, on Thursday and they are now quarantined in the suburbs of Delhi.
They were flown to Delhi on Thursday morning by a special Indian Air Force flight with a number of other Indian nationals, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
Bangladesh brought back 312 of its nationals from China on February 1 and the remaining Bangladeshis got registered to return home.
After the first (thermal) screening at the isolation bay at the airport, the new group - 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals including 8 families and 5 children - were provided with basic facilities required at the centre as done with the previous lot of evacuees.
The group of foreign nationals includes 23 from Bangladesh, six from China, two each from Myanmar and the Maldives, and one each from Madagascar, South Africa and the US.
No-one has been tested with any coronavirus symptoms so far and the expected quarantine period is 14 days plus starting from Thursday.
The quarantine camp in Chhawla in New Delhi was prepared by ITBP in just 48 hours prior to arrival of the first batch from Wuhan on February 1, 2020.
The Bangladesh nationals are quarantined in special facilities, said the High Commission in Dhaka.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, in a Facebook post, thanked the Indian Air Force for taking onboard 23 Bangladesh citizens from Wuhan city of China.
More than 80,000 people in about 40 countries have been infected with the new coronavirus which emerged in December. More than 2,700 have died. The vast majority remain in China.
Earlier, India expressed willingness to take some Bangladeshi students onboard from Wuhan with Indian nationals upon necessary permission.
Initially, a small group of nine Bangladeshi students along with their Indian friend made a request to the Embassy of India in Beijing seeking their helping hand, a student told UNB.
However, as required by the Chinese authorities, their request needed to be forwarded to Indian Embassy as a diplomatic note by Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing, said the student who wished to remain anonymous.
The diplomatic note from Bangladesh Embassy conveyed their concurrence or no objection to Bangladesh students’ evacuation on board the Indian flight, the student said.
The Bangladesh Embassy also sent a separate diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China conveying the same.
The government of India sent a consignment of medical supplies on board a relief flight to Wuhan to aid and assist China in its efforts against the COVID-19 epidemic.
On its return, the flight had some limited capacity to take on board Indian nationals wishing to return to India from Wuhan, Hubei Province.