Rohingya refugee crisis: Govt seeks UN support
12:00 AM, October 05, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:21 AM, October 05, 2017

Return of Refugees: Govt seeks UN support

Dhaka yesterday sought support from the United Nations to ensure the repatriation of Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh following persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

This development came days after Bangladesh proposed signing a bilateral agreement with Myanmar for the refugees' repatriation.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali sought the UN support when visiting UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock and Executive Director of Unicef Anthony Lake met him at the foreign ministry yesterday, a ministry press release said.

After a bilateral meeting with Kyaw Tint Swe, union minister for the Office of Myanmar's State Counsellor on October 2 in Dhaka, Mahmood told reporters that Rohingya population would be verified by the Joint Working Group, but without UN involvement.

"Bangladesh has proposed signing a bilateral agreement [with Myanmar] for the repatriation [of Rohingyas] and handed over a draft to the Myanmar delegation,” he added.

But the move to resolve the crisis bilaterally created serious confusion among foreign affairs experts, including serving and former diplomats, who strongly viewed that it would not be wise to go ahead with the repatriation with Myanmar without UN involvement.

Though the experts saw the visit of Myanmar's minister to Bangladesh and proposal to take back its nationals “positively,” they mentioned that “there is no reason to trust them [Myanmar] as they may have the motive to defuse the global outcry and trap Bangladesh in the name of taking back Rohingyas.”

Under these circumstances, the foreign minister solicited support from the UN to ensure the repatriation of the Myanmar nationals.

But Myanmar does not want UN involvement in the repatriation, saying that the issue between the two countries should be solved "bilaterally, in an amicable manner, taking into consideration of the national interests of both nations".

While briefing the two top UN officials about the influx of Rohingyas yesterday, the foreign minister said over 500,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh in just one month, the release added.

He also mentioned that the presence of over 900,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals was creating a serious humanitarian challenge for Bangladesh. 

The foreign minister informed the UN officials that Bangladesh emphasised the importance of sustainable return of the Rohingyas during the meeting with Myanmar's minister Kyaw Tint Swe.

He also told them that the Myanmar's minister expressed willingness to take back their nationals.

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