Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh’s security and stability may be hampered if the Rohingya refugees cannot be repatriated to Myanmar soon.
In reply to a query from Awami League lawmaker Nur Mohammad in the Jatiya Sangsad, Hasina said, “The displaced Rohingyas, who have been deprived of basic rights by Myanmar, are dissatisfied. If we cannot send them back soon, there is apprehension that our security and stability will be hampered.”
The PM also slammed Myanmar for making excuses for delaying repatriation of the refugees though it signed three pacts with Bangladesh, pledging to complete the repatriation process within two years.
“They [Myanmar] are delaying the process on various excuses.”
Bangladesh and the international community are putting pressure on Myanmar to create conducive conditions in Rakhine State, but unfortunately the situation there has not improved due to Myanmar government’s rigid stance, the PM noted.
In a scripted answer, the premier told the House that Myanmar is carrying out propaganda in the international arena that the Rohingya repatriation is being delayed due to Bangladesh’s non-cooperation.
“We are continuing bilateral efforts with Myanmar to resolve the crisis. We are also making diplomatic efforts with international and regional forums to mount pressure on Myanmar to take the Rohingyas back.”
Since August 2017, 741,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to escape military crackdown in Rakhine. They joined some
300,000 Rohingyas, who had already taken shelter in Bangladesh in the previous years to escape atrocities in Myanmar where they were denied citizenship and basic rights since 1982.
Myanmar signed a repatriation deal with Bangladesh in November 2017. In June last year, the UNDP and the UN Refugee Agency struck a tripartite deal with Myanmar on creating conditions conducive for Rohingya return.
Though the repatriation was scheduled to start in November last year, Rohingyas say conditions in Rakhine are not safe for them, and there is no guarantee that they will be granted citizenship.
Bangladesh sheltered the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds, but it is bearing the brunt as their stay in Cox’s Bazar is taking a heavy toll on forests, and local community and businesses.
In recent months, a number of Rohingyas were arrested in different parts of the country after they sneaked out of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Dozens more were detained while trying to go abroad with Bangladeshi passports. Besides, scores of Rohingyas were found involved in drug trafficking.
The PM said, “It is very tough for us to arrange food, clothes and accommodation for over 11 lakh Myanmar nationals for an indefinite period.”
Hasina, the leader of the House, said she repeatedly raised voice in different international forums that it is Myanmar’s responsibility to take back all the displaced Rohingyas and it has to take initiatives in this regard.
She also informed the House that world leaders are now putting immense pressure on Myanmar to stop inhuman torture on Rohingyas and take back its citizens from Bangladesh.
“At the 72th general assembly of the United Nations, I put forward a five-point proposal, including complete implementation of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations, and also a three-point proposal on the sidelines of the 73rd general assembly for repatriation of over one million forcibly displaced Rohingyas.”
Various international organisations and forums, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) have been working to mount pressure on Myanmar to take back its nationals, she added.
The lawmakers’ questions for the PM were tabled, breaking away from the usual practice in which the premier answers their queries directly. It was done so that the MPs had enough time to speak on the proposed budget for fiscal 2019-20.
Around 71 MPs were scheduled to participate in the budget discussion yesterday.
In reply to another query, Hasina said the government has set a target for creating some 1.5 crore jobs in the next five years.