NGOs working in Rohingya camps to face action if violate terms: FM
09:10 PM, August 29, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:26 PM, August 29, 2019

NGOs working in Rohingya camps to face action if violate terms: FM

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen today said action will be taken against the NGOs operating in Rohingya camps if evidence is found about their activities that go beyond the terms and references.

"We'll surely take action against those NGOs if we get evidence or proof that they're involved in any political or instigative activities (inside Rohingya camps)," he told reporters at state guesthouse Padma after briefing diplomats over the latest Rohingya situation.  

Asked about media reports on "armed groups" activities in the camps, Momen said they are trying to get information on such groups and they "will be kicked out" and punished.

He, however, said they are yet to have any such concrete information but cited an incident of making sharp weapons (axes and cutlasses). "We arrested them immediately."

Responding to a question, Momen said China, as a common friend of Bangladesh and Myanmar, is trying to help resolve the Rohingya problem.

He indicated a trilateral meeting among the Foreign Ministers of the three countries anytime soon and mentioned that China wants to work as a third-party to solve the problem of its friends.

"We've not fixed any date yet," Momen said adding that the Chinese Ambassador met him and will inform Bangladesh after consultation with Myanmar.

After his maiden meeting with Foreign Minister Momen earlier in the day, newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said China will play a "more constructive role" in resolving the Rohingya crisis.

They discussed a number of "important issues", including ways to find a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.

Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's China visit, Momen said China agreed with Bangladesh that the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine is the only solution.

Asked about the international community's reassurance, the Foreign Minister said, "Of course, we've reason to believe (them). The international community is helping us. Their contribution you can't ignore and deny."

International media reported that Myanmar's navy on Monday travelled to the Gulf of Thailand to take part in a five-day maritime exercise led by the United States with seven Asean navies.

Sought his comment, Momen said he cannot comment but media as independent people can raise the issue how the US is going for a joint military exercise with a country which committed genocide and involved in ethnic cleansing.

"I won't say. We believe in freedom of speech. We believe in freedom of press. You're independent people. You can raise the issue," he said.

Earlier, Momen briefed the diplomats and representatives of the UN agencies as two consecutive efforts to begin the repatriation of the displaced people have failed.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque were president.      

The briefing focused on the latest "thwarted repatriation" issue due to the "intransigence" attitude of Myanmar.

It also highlighted Myanmar's blame game and the need to keep up the international pressure on Myanmar, especially on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that begins in September.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. More than 730,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar military launched a brutal offensive targeting the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority on August 25, 2017. A UN fact-finding mission said the violence had "genocidal intent".

The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on November 15 last year but it was also halted amid the unwillingness of Rohingyas to go back citing a lack of congenial atmosphere in Rakhine State.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal on November 23, 2017, but there has been little progress.

On July 29, Bangladesh handed a fresh list of 25,000 Rohingyas from around 6,000 families to Myanmar for verification before their repatriation.

With the latest list, Bangladesh has so far handed the names of around 55,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities and around 8,000 of them have been verified. Myanmar only cleared 3,450 Rohingyas for beginning the repatriation.

On January 16, 2018 Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a document on "Physical Arrangement", which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

The "Physical Arrangement" stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start.

UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo on Tuesday said it is now up to the world to help keep it that way by making sure Bangladesh does not shoulder this burden alone as Bangladesh has "certainly done its part" when it comes to the Rohingya crisis.

She said Bangladesh responded with empathy to a group of people who fell victims to hatred, and now the global leadership needs to act.

UN Resident Coordinator said the UN is committed to getting the right for both the Rohingyas and the people of Bangladesh as they deserve the world's support in confronting problems related to Rohingyas.

"Any solution has to be sustainable. Sustainability is not something that can happen overnight. It takes time and thoughtful consideration for how everything we do today will set the stage for what's possible tomorrow," she said.

Despite all the preparations, no Rohingya turned up on August 22 to accept the "voluntary" repatriation offer to go back to their place of origin in Rakhine State of Myanmar. This forced the authorities to suspend the repatriation process.

China, which was on the ground during the latest repatriation attempt, is now trying to have a trilateral meeting with Bangladesh and Myanmar to find new ways to deal with the repatriation issue, said a diplomatic source.     

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