6 years of Rohingya Influx: Bangladesh wants repatriation; some countries pushing for integration here
Six years after the Rohingya influx in Bangladesh, the government continues its efforts focusing on their safe repatriation, though some countries and international organisations are pushing for their integration in Bangladesh. “Our priority is that they (Rohingyas) will return to their homeland. Myanmar is also willing to take them back,” said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, noting that Myanmar needs to ensure safety and security of the Rohingyas after their return to their place of origin. On August 25, 2017, Myanmar’s military began carrying out violent operations against the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine state, which resulted in grave crimes under international law. Entire villages were burnt, and hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas were forced to flee into Bangladesh. The Foreign Minister said the government remains in a firm position regarding their repatriation to Myanmar. “So, discussion is underway. We are always hopeful,” he said, adding that some countries and international organisations recommended the Bangladesh government to give Rohingyas training and skills, and keep them here. Read: Singapore's support sought for Rohingya repatriation, Dhaka's inclusion as ASEAN Dialogue Partner Momen said Bangladesh already has a huge population and it does not need a large number of people from other countries. The minister said Rohingyas came to Bangladesh in the 1970s, '80s and '90s but every time they returned, even during military rule in the past. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has called for renewed commitment from the international community for financial support to sustain the humanitarian response and political support to find solutions for over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Bangladesh. This week marks six years since over 700,000 Rohingya men, women and children from Myanmar fled to Bangladesh. They joined hundreds of thousands of other Rohingyas who had previously sought refuge in the country. Read: Said no to US congressmen’s suggestion that Bangladesh absorb Rohingyas: Momen As the humanitarian condition in the world’s largest refugee settlement worsens, the challenges surrounding this protracted crisis continue to increase. Steep decline in funds is forcing humanitarian actors to focus on the most critical and life-saving needs, UNHCR said. It has for the first time led to the reduction of refugees’ food assistance, raising concerns about cascading dramatic consequences: rising malnutrition, school dropout, child marriage, child labour and gender-based violence. With their strength and resilience, the Rohingya refugees have, over the past six years, formed the backbone of the humanitarian response and supported the communities hosting them in turn. UNHCR urged support to enable Rohingya refugees to benefit from education and skills development, through vocational training and other forms of capacity-building. This will not only equip the refugees for their eventual return but also ensure their dignity, safety and productivity during their time in Bangladesh. Read: Dedicated to finding global partners to fund humanitarian efforts in Rohingya camps: OIC This can empower them to address some of their own needs, as the refugees do not wish to be totally reliant on diminishing humanitarian aid, said the UN refugee agency on Tuesday. A dignified and sustainable return to Myanmar remains the primary solution to this crisis, said the UNHCR, adding that “Rohingya refugees continue to tell us they want to return to Myanmar when it is safe for them to do so voluntarily.” The UN agency said the international community must renew its efforts to make that possible. “As the United Nations remains ready to support efforts to create the conditions that would be conducive to sustainable return, it is crucial that UNHCR and its partners are provided unimpeded, meaningful and predictable access in Rakhine State in Myanmar, including to assist and monitor the return of refugees.” The collective goal should be to ensure Rohingyas’ voluntary return to Myanmar — to their places of origin or choice, being able to move freely and access documentation, citizenship pathways, services and income-generation opportunities to rebuild their lives, UNHCR said. Read more: Bangladesh seeks stronger support from int'l community for Rohingya repatriation Until they can return, they remain in refugee camps located in an area off the coast of the Bay of Bengal, which is extremely vulnerable to cyclones, flooding, landslides, fire outbreaks, and the impacts of climate change.
Bangladesh has sought stronger support from the international community for speedy, safe and dignified repatriation of forcibly displaced Rohingya people to Myanmar. The international community was asked to enhance their support on the Rohingya issue at a high-level meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office here in the city on Sunday. Read: Rohingya people advocate for assurances of rights and citizenship PM’s Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah chaired the meeting, while a number of foreign envoys and representatives of international agencies, stationed in Dhaka, joined the meeting. In the meeting, Bangladesh put emphasis on increasing international support for quick, safe, dignified and permanent repatriation of Rohingya to their home country, said a press release. "The only solution to this crisis lies in the dignified and permanent repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland, Myanmar," said the Principal Secretary. Read: Bangladesh must suspend pilot project to return Rohingyas to Myanmar: UN expert Raising the government's stance on the issue, he said there is no scope for integration of Rohingya with locals. Tofazzel Hossain sought cooperation from the participants to create temporary shelters for the displaced people. The UN resident coordinator in Dhaka highlighted the reduction in the allocations of the World Food Programme and other donor agencies for humanitarian and food assistance to Rohingya amid the global economic crisis. In the meeting, the envoys of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Palestine, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and China raised the stance of their respective countries and reiterated their commitments to extend support and assistance standing with any initiative of Bangladesh over the Rohingya crisis. Read: UNHCR to look after Rohingya families waiting for repatriation too Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Public Security Division Secretary Mustafizur Rahman, PMO Secretary Mohammad Salahuddin and Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Kamrul Hasan were present. Saudi Ambassador Essa Yousef Essa Alduhailan, Chinese ambassador Yao Wen, UAE ambassador Abdulla Ali Abdulla Khaseif AlHmoudi, Qatar ambassador Seraya Ali Al-Qahtani, Turkiye ambassador Ramis Sen, Kuwait ambassador Ali Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Dhufairi, Oman ambassador Abdul Ghaffar Albulushi, Palestine ambassador Yousef S.Y. Ramadan, Iran ambassador Mansour Chavoshi, Chargé d'Affaires of Iraq Embassy Mohanad A.R Khalaf Al-Darraji, UN Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis and WFP country director in Bangladesh Dom Scalpelli, among others, took part in the meeting.
Bangladesh must immediately suspend a pilot repatriation project for Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar, where they "face serious risks" to their lives and liberty, a UN expert said on Thursday (June 8, 2023). UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said there were reports that Bangladeshi authorities were using “deceptive and coercive measures” to compel Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar. Also read: Rohingyas wanting to return to Myanmar should have access to clear info: UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees “Conditions in Myanmar are anything but conducive for the safe, dignified, sustainable, and voluntary return of Rohingya refugees,” Andrews said. “Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who commanded the forces that launched the genocidal attacks against the Rohingya, now leads a brutal military junta that is attacking civilian populations while denying the Rohingya citizenship and other basic rights,” he said. Bangladesh officials have stated that an initial group of 1,140 Rohingya refugees will be repatriated to Myanmar at an unspecified date and 6,000 will be returned by the end of the year. Actions by Bangladesh authorities suggest that the first return could be imminent. Aslo read: Myanmar team arrives in Cox's Bazar to verify list of Rohingya for repatriation “There are also reports of refugees being promised large sums of money, if they agree to return. These promises are allegedly being made even as food rations are being cut to $.27 per person per day for those in the Bangladesh camps. It remains unclear where the funds for repatriated families will come from,” Andrews said. Under the pilot project, Rohingya refugees will not be allowed to return to their own villages, many of which were razed to the ground during the genocidal attacks of 2017. The refugees would pass through “reception” and “transit” centers in Maungdaw township, after which they would be moved to a designated area of 15 newly constructed “villages” – places they would not be allowed to leave freely. In March, Bangladesh authorities facilitated two visits by Myanmar junta authorities (SAC) to the Bangladesh camps. Also read: Dhaka seeks global support in pilot Rohingya repatriation project Bangladesh and SAC officials also coordinated a “go and see” visit to Rakhine State for some Rohingya refugees. Bangladeshi officials said the refugees had expressed “general satisfaction” with arrangements made for their return, but these assurances were contradicted by reports that those who participated in the trip had unequivocally rejected the repatriation plans.
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Monday (May 29, 2023) said the Rohingyas’ better life and future can be ensured only in their own country and it is better for them to start returning to their homes in Myanmar. "For Rohingyas, better future is only possible in Myanmar, not in Bangladesh. Confidence building measures are being taken. It is better they start returning to Myanmar," he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Momen said the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister came to Bangladesh to discuss the Rohingya, not the issues that media raised. "He (Chinese Vice Minister) was not even close that issue," said the Foreign Minister while responding to a question on Global Development Initiative (GDI) of China. Read more: Bangladesh urged to use LDC graduation as an opportunity to rethink its reliance on RMG Momen said China is facilitating the Rohingya repatriation efforts. On Sunday, Bangladesh and China reviewed the ongoing efforts for repatriation of the Rohingyas back to their homeland in Myanmar smoothly and on an expeditious basis. Foreign Minister Momen thanked the Chinese government for making "sincere efforts" for the safe and quick return of the Rohingya people from Bangladesh. Asked when the Rohingyas will start returning to Myanmar, he said he does not have any idea about any specific date. Read more: Rohingya Case: OIC Secretary General seeks support from member states Both Foreign Minister Dr Momen and Vice Foreign Minister of China Sun Weidong expressed similar views that the problem needed an urgent solution, because if left unaddressed for any longer, it could potentially evolve as a tangible threat to the regional security and stability. "There are trilateral efforts. Our priority is to see repatriation of the Rohingyas," Momen said. He said many Rohingyas are willing to return while some Rohingyas raised issues like citizenship. During his meeting with Dr Momen on Sunday, the Vice Foreign Minister of China highly lauded the remarkable socio-economic transformation of Bangladesh under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Read more: Dhaka, Beijing review Rohingya repatriation effort "The Chinese Vice Minister visited Padma Bridge. He acknowledged that Bangladesh made things possible over the last 10 years that looked impossible," Momen said. Dr Momen highly appreciated the substantial contributions made by China towards the developmental journey of Bangladesh. Responding to a question, Momen said the Chinese Vice Minister invited Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit China but Dhaka conveyed that the Prime Minister will be in New York at that time. Read more: Countries investing heavily in Myanmar should come forward to solve Rohingya crisis: Momen
Bangladesh and China on Sunday (May 28, 2023) reviewed the ongoing efforts for repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland in Myanmar smoothly and on an expedited basis. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen thanked the Chinese government for making sincere efforts for the safe and quick repatriation of the displaced population. Momen and Vice Foreign Minister of China Sun Weidon agreed that the problem needed an urgent solution, because if left unaddressed for any longer, it could potentially evolve as a tangible threat to regional security and stability. During his meeting with Momen, the vice foreign minister of China highly lauded the remarkable socio-economic transformation of Bangladesh under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Read more: Rohingya Case: OIC Secretary General seeks support from member states Momen highly appreciated the substantial contributions made by China towards the developmental journey of Bangladesh. He profusely admired the excellent bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and expressed optimism that the constructive and collaborative relations would be further strengthened in the days ahead. Momen congratulated Sun for the successful holding of the bilateral consultations on May 27 in Dhaka. Noting the deep cultural, historical and civilization links between the two countries, Foreign Minister Momen mentioned about the visit of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to China in the 1950s and the book he wrote on what he saw. Read more: Rohingyas not satisfied with the Myanmar delegation’s assurances Sharing his admiration for the magnificent Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Sun mentioned that the structure stands out as a new symbol of the friendship between Bangladesh and China and observed that the two countries could achieve miracles through greater and better synergies. Momen invited and encouraged larger flow of Chinese FDI into Bangladesh for mutual benefit of both the countries. He recalled with profound appreciation the assistance that China offered during the Covid-19 pandemic and mentioned his brief meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister in Dhaka in January this year. While discussing the facility of duty-free and quota-free access to 98% Bangladeshi products to China, he hoped that all necessary measures would be taken so that Bangladesh could get optimum benefit out of this arrangement. Read more: Joint operation to prevent crime, violence in Rohingya camps soon: Home Minister He also stressed on an expedited implementation of the projects agreed during the last visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh. Sun praised Bangladesh’s energetic youth population capable of making a significant change in the society and economy. He referred to the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese President Xi Jinping and hoped that Bangladesh reaped the maximum benefits out of this grand scheme.
The 14-member Myanmar delegation held a three-hour meeting with the Rohingyas, who fled the Buddhist-majority country amid military persecution and have taken shelter in Cox's Bazar, ahead of their possible repatriation that is being discussed. However, the Rohingyas are not satisfied with the assurances given by the delegation. The meeting was held with more than 200 Rohingyas at Jadimura Shalbagan camp in Teknaf on Thursday (May 25, 2023) afternoon. Later, the delegation returned to Myanmar by trawler via Teknaf-Myanmar transit jetty at Jaliapara municipality. Read more: Myanmar team arrives in Cox's Bazar to verify list of Rohingya for repatriation Earlier, the 14-member delegation from Myanmar arrived in a cargo trawler at Teknaf-Myanmar Transit Jetty of Teknaf Municipality Jaliapara around 10am on Thursday. The team was led by Aung Myo, Maungdaw's regional director at the Ministry of Social Affairs. After the meeting, Director General (Myanmar) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Moinul Kabir said, "Our main objective is to repatriate the Rohingyas. Because that's the only permanent solution. Various initiatives are being taken to send Rohingyas to their home countries. In continuation of this, the Myanmar team has come.” Expressing dissatisfaction with the assurance of the delegation, some of the Rohingya participants of the meeting said that they demanded Myanmar citizenship, return of their lands and freedom of movement like other communities in the country. "They're talking about taking us to camps in that country with an NBC card. But that's not how we're willing to go,” a Rohingya participant said, in return for anonymity to discuss the issue. Read more: Dhaka seeks global support in pilot Rohingya repatriation project.
Bangladesh has urged the United Nations, ASEAN and regional countries to support the pilot repatriation project and help Rohingya returnees reintegrate in Myanmar. Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith, made the call while speaking at the Security Council‘s Arria-formula meeting on Myanmar. The meeting convened by the United Kingdom was held at the United Nations Headquarters on Friday (May 19, 2023). Referring to the recent dialogue between Bangladesh and Myanmar, Ambassador Muhith informed the Security Council that the two sides have decided to undertake a pilot repatriation project under which a group of verified Myanmar nationals will return to their country of origin in the first batch. Read more: China "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh, Myanmar to promote Rohingya repatriation: Ambassador Yao The repatriation will continue and additional Rohingyas will be repatriated in successive batches. He further informed that a group of 20 Rohingya visited Rakhine State on May 5, 2023 to see arrangements made in Myanmar for their return. Citing the pilot project as an important step in the right direction, the Permanent Representative said that Bangladesh is taking all measures to ensure the voluntary return of the Rohingyas in family units. Ambassador Muhith called upon the international community to remain vigilant so that the returnees under pilot project are not exposed to further persecution. “The presence of humanitarian and development actors in the Rakhine will act as an important confidence building measure. We also urge the regional countries to support the returnees and help them reintegrate in Myanmar society,” he added. Read more: Rohingyas not bothered about facilities, their demand centres citizenship The meeting held in the in-person format was attended by all Security Council members and a large number of member states from the ASEAN. The Security Council members discussed the current humanitarian challenges in Myanmar including in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha. They also expressed support for the efforts of ASEAN in addressing the multifaceted challenges of Myanmar. On the Rohingya issue, the majority of the members expressed support for the safe, voluntary, sustainable and dignified return of the Rohingyas to their homeland in Myanmar, while calling upon Myanmar to improve the condition in Rakhine. Read more: UNHCR ‘not involved’ in discussions on Bangladesh-Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya repatriation
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today (May 20, 2023) urged countries, who are heavily investing in Myanmar, to come forward for a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis for their own interests and to protect their investment. "If this problem is not resolved, you have seen many countries in the Asia Pacific and the Bay of Bengal -- their attractions have increased and made investments, enhancing trade. This investment will be hurt if there are terrorist activities," Momen told reporters after a seminar. Diplomats World, a publication that deals with cultural, legal, regional, global security, politics, and various other issues, hosted the seminar titled "Rohingya Repatriation: A Pathway to Peace, Stability and Harmony in the Bay of Bengal Region" at a Dhaka hotel. Momen said if the Rohingyas who are frustrated succumb to terrorism, major investments by some countries in the whole region would be at risk. Read more: Dhaka seeks global support in pilot Rohingya repatriation project He said peace is required in the region so that investment can sustain. "If there is a commitment, if there is a will, they can do it. It is the commitment that is lacking on the part of our global leadership. There is lip service, unfortunately," said the Foreign Minister. He, however, said he always remains hopeful and mentioned that both the US and China have engaged in senior-level focal point for resolving the Rohingya issue.
China "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh, Myanmar to promote Rohingya repatriation: Ambassador Yao
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen on Saturday (May 06, 2023) said China, as a responsible major country, has been "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh and Myanmar to promote the repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland. "A local friend once told me sincerely that many people provide lip-services, but only China is actually doing practical things to proceed with the repatriation," he said. The ambassador was delivering keynote speech at a symposium as part of the Cosmos Dialogue Ambassadors’ Lecture Series entitled "Bangladesh-China Relations: Prognosis for the Future" at hotel in Dhaka. The discussion was chaired and conducted by President, Cosmos Foundation and former foreign affairs advisor Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury. Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome remarks. Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char. A 27-member delegation including 20 Rohingyas visited Myanmar’s Rakhine on Friday to see the preparation to resettle the possible returnees. They visited 15 villages and other infrastructure built for the Rohingyas. Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, also the leader of the delegation said, “We returned with 20 Rohingyas after visiting the arrangements made for them around Maungdaw town. I have seen the goodwill of the Myanmar government regarding repatriation. We want to start repatriation.” Also Read: Momen sees hope for Rohingyas' repatriation in latest Chinese initiative Responding to a question, Ambassador Yao said the Rohingya issue is a humanitarian tragedy and it should never happen again.
A 27-member delegation including 20 Rohingyas that left for Myanmar’s Rakhine on Friday morning returned to Bangladesh on Friday (May 05, 2023) around 5.50 pm after visiting 15 villages and other infrastructure built for the Rohingyas. “We have visited the places in our village, but I still don't see any opportunity to go there before fulfilling demands. We want to see the fulfillment of our demand from here (Bangladesh) and then we will return to Myanmar,” said Sufian, a member of the delegation and a resident of Rohingya camp number 26 while speaking at a briefing after returning at Teknaf-Myanmar Transit Ghat in Cox's Bazar. "We went there and made our demands. We have demanded citizenship, we have demanded our land," Sufian added. However, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, also the leader of the 27-member delegation team that went to Rakhine State, said, “We returned today with 20 Rohingyas after visiting the arrangements made for them around Maungdaw town. I have seen the goodwill of the Myanmar government regarding repatriation. We want to start repatriation.” Read More: China "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh, Myanmar to promote Rohingya repatriation: Ambassador Yao "We also had Rohingya representatives with us. Basically this event is for them. They will be deported, so they have been shown it in person. Myanmar authorities have briefed, visited various places," he added. At that time, Mizanur Rahman also assured that there are a lot of Rohingya in Maungdaw city. “As far as I can tell, about 80% of the Rohingya are doing business. I have spoken to them and told them that they are not facing any problem,” he said. Mohammad Selim, a Rohingya member of the delegation and a resident of Rohingya camp number 26, said that after many years, we have had the opportunity to see our country Myanmar. Read More: Rohingyas not bothered about facilities, their demand centres citizenship “Our last word is that if we are not given security, citizenship and land, we will not go back to Myanmar,” Selim said. Additional Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (Additional Secretary) Mohammad Khalid Hossain, Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Biswajit Debnath and senior officials of various government agencies were present in the delegation. Earlier, a list of more than 800,000 Rohingyas was sent to Myanmar from the Bangladesh government. The country had identified about 1,140 people in the first phase as a pilot project to repatriate from the list. Later, Myanmar voiced objections regarding 429 individuals on the list. Read More: Rohingya delegation leaves for Rakhine to monitor repatriation arrangements On March 15, a 19-member technical team came to Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf, and met 480 members of 177 Rohingya families and returned to Myanmar.