FM’s NY Visit: Dhaka seeks UN roadmap over Rohingya repatriation

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Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen discusses Rohingya repatriation issue during his meeting with Christine S. Burgener, the Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar in New York. Photo: Collected

Bangladesh provided shelter to the Rohingya out of humanitarian consideration which was appreciated globally. Everybody knows the solution to the crisis lies in their safe and sustainable repatriation to Myanmar.

Bangladesh has long been exploring ways with the international community to begin repatriation of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine state. The repatriation, however, could not be commenced in the last four years.

Discussion with Myanmar remains halted for a long time amid Covid situation and subsequent military coup in Myanmar. Bangladesh remains hopeful about the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar despite the military government being in place considering the repatriation that took place in 1978 and 1992 (under military government).

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, who is now in New York, discussed the Rohingya issue during his meetings in New York seeking ways for their early repatriation.

Dr Momen had a bilateral meeting with Christine S. Burgener, the Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar at the Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York on June 16. During the meeting, he sought a clear roadmap from the United Nations for repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

The Foreign Minister referred to the negative impacts of the prolonged presence of the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar, particularly for the host community, and stated that if repatriation does not commence soon, it would only deteriorate the overall situation there and create instability in the region and beyond.

He briefed the Special Envoy on the Bhashan char project where the Rohingya can engage in economic activities and stressed on the engagement of the UN in providing humanitarian assistance there.

The Special envoy briefed the foreign Minister on her efforts to reach out to the UN member States, and all other stakeholders within and outside Myanmar with a view to resolving the crisis in Myanmar in a sustainable manner so that the conditions on the ground could be improved and the repatriation could commence soon. She also expressed her eagerness to visit Bhashan char.

Bangladesh had handed over a list of 840,000 Rohingyas to Myanmar for verification but the verification process by the Myanmar side was very slow, Dhaka says.

The talks on Rohingya repatriation got halted as the military is now back in charge and declared a year-long state of emergency. It seized control on February 1 following a general election which Aung Aung Suu Kyi's NLD party won by a landslide.

Bangladesh highlighted three issues after the military coup in Myanmar- Bangladesh wants democracy to flourish everywhere, wants peace instead of conflicts and Bangladesh expects that Myanmar will take back its citizens on a priority basis.

On June 15, Foreign Minister Dr Momen attended a high-level virtual discussion in New York and urged the United Nations to take immediate steps to resolve the Rohingya crisis and help Rohingyas return to their place of origin in Rakhine State with dignity.

He also recalled the efforts of the international community including the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in keeping the issue of Rohingya alive; while the efforts of the Security Council have always fallen short of concrete actions.

Bangladesh hopes that the Council would fulfill its Charter obligations and take urgent measures to resolve the crisis in Myanmar so that the Rohingya people can return to their homes in safety, security and dignity. Bangladesh also urged the regional countries and other stakeholders in playing their due role.

“We have always called for the international community’s active role in resolving the political aspects of the Rohingya problem; address the root causes and most importantly fulfil their fundamental right to return to their homes in safety, security and dignity,” said the Foreign Minister.

The Permanent Representative of Bangladesh Ambassador Rabab Fatima opened the discussion with her welcome remarks, while the high-level panel included the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews, the Special Advisor of Secretary General on Prevention of Genocide Alice W Nderitu, the Permanent Representatives of Canada, and Turkey and Rohingya activist Wai Wai Nu.

The executive Director of GCR2P Dr. Simon Adams moderated the panel discussion.

The Foreign Minister recalled the bold decision and humanitarian gesture of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to provide shelter to the over a million Rohingya, as they fled atrocities in Myanmar, and the efforts of the government to ensure the wellbeing of Rohingya despite severe resources and space constraints.

Referring to the newly established accommodation facility for the Rohingya in Bhasan Char, the Foreign Minister said that after thorough assessment the UN and the development partners have expressed satisfaction with the arrangements in Bhashan Char and are now considering opening their operations in Bhasan Char.

The panelists commended the government of Bangladesh profoundly for its remarkable humanitarian gesture and expressed their support in resolving the Rohingya crisis in a sustainable manner.

They all recognized the need to address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis which lie in Myanmar, and support the ongoing accountability processes to ensure justice to the victims of human rights violations in Myanmar.

The event was held virtually and was attended by a large number of attendees from member States, civil society, academia and other stakeholders.

President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA) Vulkan Bozkir thanked the government of Bangladesh for its humanitarian role on the Rohingya issue. He also thanked Bangladesh for cooperating with his office on various issues related to the United Nations.

  • FM’s NY Visit: Dhaka seeks UN roadmap over Rohingya repatriation
  • Rohingya Repatriation
  • United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
  • Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen
  • Myanmar
  • Covid-19

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