Bangladesh says Rohingyas could turn to extremism, seeks help for repatriation
Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen sought help from India and other countries in the region to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
GUWAHATI: Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Saturday said that Rohingya refugees staying in his country could turn to extremism and sought help from India and other countries in the region to repatriate them to Myanmar.
Delivering a special address at the inaugural session of the two-day Asian Confluence River Conclave, Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence 3 (NADI-3), in Guwahati, the minister said that Bangladesh is at present hosting 1.1 million Myanmar nationals in Cox’s Bazar region.
The session was attended by a host of dignitaries including external affairs minister S Jaishankar, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and ambassadors and high commissioners of several South East Asian countries including Myanmar.
“I am talking about the massive influx of Maynamar nationals in Bangladesh who have been forcibly pushed out of their own country and Bangladesh is providing them with food and shelter on humanitarian grounds,” Momen said without attributing the refugees as Rohingyas.
According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in August 2017, armed attacks, violence and human rights violations forced thousands of Rohingyas to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine state and travel days on foot through jungles and cross the Bay of Bengal to reach Bangladesh.
Cox’s Bazar is described by some as the ‘world’s largest refugee camp’. According to the UN, Rohingyas are the ‘most persecuted minority in the world’. Rohingyas are a Muslim minority group who have lived for centuries in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, but have been denied citizenship since 1982.
“They are temporarily sheltered in Bangaldesh for the last five years and they all want to go back to their motherland. Since, repatriation has not been started yet, they are getting frustrated and many are getting involved in criminal activities like drugs and human trafficking, violence and crimes,” Momen said.
“We are afraid that such activities might create pockets of extremism and radicalism and may lead to uncertainty in the whole region. Therefore, their reparation must be done quickly. I solicit your help and support in this regard,” he added.
Momen said that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had taken steps to end extremism and terrorism in the region (by dealing sternly with rebel groups from northeastern region who had camps in the country).
“Because of that, security and stability of this region has enhanced and this helped in economic activity and development of the whole region including Bangladesh and neighbouring countries. We should work together to maintain stability and security of this region by repatriating this displaced and persecuted people from Bangladesh’s soil,” he said.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who delivered his address after Momen, didn’t mention about the refugees in his speech. Ambassador of Myanmar to India, Moe Kyaw Aung, didn’t speak during the inaugural session of the conclave.