Rohingyas should go back home: FM

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday said Rohingyas should go back to their place of origin in Rakhine State once the issue of safety and dignity is addressed as the world will keep eyes on their repatriation process. He said it will be unrealistic to think that all the demands, placed by Rohingyas, should be made before their repatriation but their return to Myanmar can help realise those.

“We want them to go back. We want their repatriation,” he told reporters after attending an international conference titled ‘Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh: Challenges and Sustainable Solutions’ at North South University in the evening. The Foreign Minister said there are many interested groups and some organisations that are encouraging the Rohingyas not to go back as they are getting benefits out of their longer stay in Bangladesh.

Dr Momen also said another group is trying to take advantage of possible uncertainty that might emerge here due to the longer stay of Rohingyas. About the relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char, he said the government wanted to create some economic opportunities for them there but some are instigating them not to be there.

Earlier, addressing the closing session of the two-day conference, the minister said they have been asking the global leaders to act to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis. “Myanmar has created the problem and the solution also lies with Myanmar,” he said adding that it is a global responsibility to see how to solve the problem.

He said Bangladesh remains engaged with Myanmar bilaterally but the global leadership needs to come forward to somehow convince Myanmar to resolve this problem. “It’s a complex problem. I’m always optimistic,” said the Foreign Minister expressing his optimism over finding a solution to the crisis. On Saturday, Myanmar delegation and Rohingya representatives agreed to participate in a joint dialogue on repatriation issues.

Apart from representatives from Myanmar and the Rohingya community, representatives from Bangladesh and UN agencies will take part in the dialogue. The decision was taken on Saturday following a meeting between the representatives of Rohingyas and Myanmar delegation at Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Ukhiya upazila.

Myanmar Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Myint Thu led the delegation having officials from its Social Welfare Ministry and the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine in the discussion. Rohingyas said they placed a set of demands before the Myanmar delegation members when the team urged them to return home.

But some Rohingyas who attended the meeting said they could not be sanguine on safe environment in Myanmar for their repatriation. Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017. On January 16, 2018 Bangladesh and Myanmar signed 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. The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on November 15 last year but it was halted amid unwillingness of Rohingyas to return for lack of a congenial environment in Rakhine.