Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday reiterated Dhaka’s call for smooth repatriation of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State ending their plights and miseries.
Apart from seeking international community’s support, he said Bangladesh is also talking to Myanmar on good faith as Myanmar has expressed its willingness for repatriation of the Rohingyas.
The foreign minister also sought genuine efforts to create an environment conducive to repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.
He was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled “Rohingya Crisis: The Pathways to Repatriation” at the Foreign Service Academy organized by the Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS), University of Dhaka.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen delivered the opening remarks while Director, Centre for Genocide Studies Professor Imtiaz Ahmed presented keynote paper.
The protracted Rohingya crisis has stepped into another year without a single Rohingya repatriated to their homeland.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a media release said the international community should focus on creating a safe and conducive situation on the ground in northern Rakhine and the smooth conduct of repatriation and reintegration to the Myanmar society for the Rohingyas.
“The Rohingya crisis is not a bilateral issue. Its origin and solution lies in Myanmar,” MoFA said on the fifth anniversary of the forced displacement of Rohingyas to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh tried to arrange safe, sustainable and voluntary repatriation of the Rohingya to Rakhine State through negotiations with Myanmar following the bilateral instruments.
“Unfortunately, not a single Rohingya could return to Myanmar yet for the non-committal attitude of Myanmar towards their obligation enshrined to the bilateral mechanisms,” MoFA said.
Due to the frustrating development on the bilateral front in commencing the repatriation, Bangladesh involves friendly countries to assist their repatriation.
Starting their safe, sustainable, voluntary repatriation to their homeland Rakhine State as early as possible should be a priority through dialogue and discussion, Bangladesh says.
Bangladesh says the UN and the partners must undertake tangible actions and projects to create a conducive environment with safety and security.
“ASEAN can take the lead role in such engagements. The presence of ASEAN and international actors in the Rakhine state can help to reduce the trust deficit between Rohingya and Nay Pyi Taw and help confidence building that is essential for smooth repatriation,” according to the MoFA release.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina saved the world from a “humane catastrophe” in 2017 by sheltering these persecuted people.
“If the crisis is not resolved quickly, it may create a security problem for the region and beyond. The government is trying its best to ensure early repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas,” MoFA said.
Return to their homeland is also the aspiration of the displaced Rohingya population and they are receiving education, food, shelter, health care and other services in Bangladesh.
“They participate in skill development activities to enhance their livelihood opportunities in Rakhine once they return,” MoFA said.
Earlier, United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer said it is critical that the international community continues to seek comprehensive, durable and inclusive solutions to the Rohingya crisis.
“We cannot let this become a forgotten crisis,” said Special Envoy Heyzer in a statement who also attended the seminar.
On the five-year mark of the forced mass displacement of Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Bangladesh continues to show “great generosity and leadership” in hosting refugees, which requires renewed international attention and equitable burden-sharing by countries in the region and beyond, she said on Thursday.
In their productive discussions, the Special Envoy thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her leadership and expressed the United Nations’ deep appreciation to the people and government of Bangladesh for their immense contribution.
“I will continue to advocate for greater leadership of countries in the region in supporting Bangladesh and leveraging their influence with Myanmar to create conducive conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees,” she said.
She also highlighted Bangladesh’s pivotal role in working with the ASEAN.
“The generosity of Bangladesh and host communities towards Rohingya refugees in their time of need conveys a critical need for greater international and regional commitment to burden share and ensure that the Rohingya do not become forgotten,” Heyzer said.
She highlighted the major pressures on Bangladesh as host of one of the largest refugee populations in the world, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
On the other hand, foreign missions stationed in Dhaka said they will continue to pursue a long-term solution to the Rohingya crisis and its causes.
"Five years on, the international community stands resolute in solidarity in its support for Rohingya and Bangladesh," reads a joint statement by the embassies and high commissions in Dhaka on Thursday.
The signatories are Australian High Commission in Dhaka, British High Commission, High Commission of Canada, Embassy of Denmark, European Union Delegation to Bangladesh, Embassy of France, German Embassy, Embassy of Italy, Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Embassy of Spain, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Switzerland and Embassy of the United States of America in Bangladesh.
The foreign missions in their joint statement said they will continue to work together with the Government of Bangladesh, the UN, and international and national partners, to ensure that Rohingya refugees receive humanitarian assistance, protection and education.
"We underline the importance of Rohingya’s ability to live safe, purposeful and dignified lives whilst they are in Bangladesh and support the efforts to prepare them for return to Myanmar, once conditions allow."