Rohingya Return: Dhaka to push for stronger role of global community
12:00 AM, September 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:24 AM, September 19, 2019

Rohingya Return: Dhaka to push for stronger role of global community

Bangladesh will seek a stronger role of the global community for speedy repatriation of Rohingyas at the UN General Assembly in New York next week.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is leaving for New York to attend the 74th session of the event tomorrow, will put forward some specific proposals, including ensuring safety and security for Rohingyas in Rakhine and the right to free movement to facilitate the Rohingya return, before the UNGA, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said yesterday.   

“The Rohingya issue will be discussed prominently in this assembly. Bangladesh will attend a number of events on the issue and raise the concern related to the Rohingya,” he told a press briefing at the ministry on the UNGA, which began on September 17.

Hasina will attend the UNGA from September 24 to 29. 

The five proposals the PM had put forward in the 72nd UNGA in September 2017 are still relevant, the minister said.

The proposals include: Myanmar must stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine unconditionally, establish “safe zones” inside Myanmar under UN supervision, ensure sustainable return of all Rohingyas in Bangladesh, and implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission immediately.

More than two years after the influx of over 730,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine to Bangladesh amid a military crackdown, UN’s Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said 600,000 Rohingyas in Rakhine still face threats of genocide.

Meanwhile, two attempts of repatriation have failed as Rohingyas say they do not have guarantee of citizenship and safety in Rakhine. 

“Myanmar has created the Rohingya crisis and it has to solve it. Bangladesh earned respect from the global community for sheltering Rohingyas in the last two years,” Momen said.

Some of the countries, including China, that are close allies of Myanmar are now supporting the proposals of Bangladesh, the minister said, adding, “They are making efforts from that perspective. We are hopeful that we can have a peaceful solution to the crisis.”

Bangladesh has planned a foreign minister-level tripartite meeting with Myanmar and China, through the mediation of China, on the sidelines of the UNGA, he said.

“Issuing a strong statement from Bangladesh at the assembly is very important to sustain global interest and pressure on Myanmar,” the minister opined.

On the sidelines of UNGA, Hasina will also hold bilateral meetings with heads of state of different countries, including Indian PM Narendra Modi, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“She may discuss in detail the challenges Bangladesh face when she meets Narendra Modi,” Momen said. 

Asked whether Bangladesh will raise the issue of Assam’s National Register of Citizenship that has excluded 1.9 million Bangla-speaking people in Assam, he said, “It’s not a problem for us. It’s an internal issue of India. But some people have concern about it and the prime minister may raise it before her Indian counterpart.”

In the main UNGA debate, Bangladesh will talk about multilateral cooperation on important issues affecting Bangladesh: climate change, poverty reduction, quality education, inclusive development, universal health coverage, women empowerment, migration and refugee crises, Momen said.

Bangladesh will also highlight the achievements of the present government and the ongoing efforts on socio-economic development, democracy, and good governance. 

The minister said Hasina would announce $100,000 grant to the Trust Fund formed by the UN secretary general to operate newly introduced Resident Coordinator system.  

The Resident Coordinator system is meant for bringing together different UN agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operational activities at country level.

The PM will join a high-level daylong meeting on universal health coverage (UHC) on September 23 where she will highlight Bangladesh’s success in health sector in the last few years. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations will confer an award -- “Vaccine Hero” -- on Hasina as recognition of Bangladesh’s outstanding success in vaccination, Momen said.

On the same day, she will attend a climate summit at the invitation of the UN secretary general and a side event on the situation of Rohingyas in Myanmar organised by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN and the OIC Secretariat.

The PM will also attend a side event on leadership of Mahatma Gandhi on the day. On September 25, she will take part in a summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where she may present Bangladesh’s plan and progress in achieving SDGs. 

The following day, Hasina will participate in a high-level side event organised by Unicef in her honour. She will also receive an award titled “Champion of Skill Development for Youth” at the programme.

On September 27, Hasina is scheduled to attend another side event on UHC, mental health and disabilities. The next day, she will address a press briefing at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in New York and join a reception to be accorded to her by the Bangladesh community at the Hotel Marriott Marquis.

On September 29, the PM will leave New York and is scheduled to reach home on October 1.    

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