Dhaka seeks EU support
Bangladesh yesterday sought the support of the European Union (EU) in resolving the long-standing issue of repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
At a meeting with a seven-member EU delegation led by William Hanna, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh, Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque urged the EU to settle the problem, by sending the Rohingyas back to their homeland in Myanmar.
In reply, the delegation informed the minister that the EU had already chalked out a project worth $100 million to be implemented in Myanmar for the Rohingya refugees intruding in Bangladesh.
The minister said that the EU would also be setting up an office in Myanmar to restore diplomatic ties with the country because of the changing political conditions.
“The delegation assured of extending help in the repatriation of the Rohingyas as the refugees have been causing various economic and social problems in Cox's Bazar areas,” Razzaque told the reporters after the meeting.
He said that the delegates also expressed their intent to support the NGOs (non-government organisations) in Cox's Bazar working for the welfare of the refugees.
However, Razzaque urged them to stop the intrusion of Rohingyas in Bangladesh.
“No NGO is allowed to work there without prior approval of the local administration,” he informed the delegates, adding that such restrictions were imposed to discourage the influx of the Rohingyas.
Razzaque said the activities of certain foreign NGOs in Bangladesh had also hurt the country's image.
The minister said “We are not against the activities of the NGOs. The government has also done many things for Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds but we should not encourage more of them to come to Bangladesh.”
There was a mass influx of Rohingyas to Bangladesh in the 90's. Around 2.4 lakh of them were repatriated but the move was stopped due to non-cooperation by the Myanmar military junta.
Around 28,000 registered Rohingya refugees are staying in two camps in Cox's Bazar while around 4 lakh illegal Rohingyas have dispersed all over Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Rangamati.
“The huge number of Rohingyas is also causing food crisis in the area,” said the food minister, adding that the government did everything to repatriate them.