Bangladesh has said it will not repatriate anybody ‘without his or her will’ but urged the international community to keep up pressure on Myanmar for creating conditions in Rakhine to make Rohingya repatriation sustainable.
“I urge the international community not to lose focus on Rohingya issue and continue to exert pressure on Myanmar,” said State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Sunday, reports UNB.
He said keeping up pressure on Myanmar is necessary so that it remains sincere and committed to the repatriation process and fulfill its obligation of creating conducive environment with ensured livelihood in safety and dignity in Rakhine.
The State Minister was addressing the launching of the report ‘Childhood Interrupted: Children’s Voice from the Rohingya Camps in Cox’s Bazar’ in the city.
Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Kazi Reazul Hoque and Country Director of Save the Children Mark Pierce were also present.
The State Minister said continued deprivation, persecution, disenfranchisement and military atrocities against the whole community of Rohingyas are the root causes of the crisis.
“We need to recognise that the problem has its origin in Rakhine and its comprehensive solution has to be found there. Bangladesh is only unjustifiably bearing the brunt of it- till today- as the flow did not stop,” he added.
Shahriar said Myanmar must be convinced to allow international humanitarian assistance into Rakhine as well to ensure a healthy childhood of the returning children. “I also request friends in the international community to continue to provide assistance to the Rohingyas including their children.”
Bangladesh is offering shelters to over a million forcibly displaced Myanmar residents- the Rohingyas.
Unlike in the past, this time it has been the largest and fastest exodus of Rohingyas into Bangladesh, particularly after August 2017.
The State Minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took a bold and timely decision to shelter them in Bangladesh territory. “However, their arrival in massive numbers is causing enormous social, economic and environmental strains in Bangladesh.”
Around 58 percent of the displaced people have been described as children (under 18 years old).
“It’s deeply disturbing to note that among the camp population, around 26,000 Rohingya children lost one of the parents and around 7,000 lost both,” he said adding that currently they are under some kind of informal foster care.
The State Minister said the primary focus of the government has been to ensure safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the displaced Rohingyas including the children.
Since November 2017, the government has successfully negotiated and concluded three agreements to repatriate these people, he said.
The State Minister said Bangladesh has recently handed over a list of 8,032 individuals as first batch and waiting for the commencement of the repatriation.
“We acknowledge special requirement of the children in the camps. However, unfortunately we find that their future depends on the progress of overall repatriation process,” he said.
He said Bangladesh is offering as best as it can, but it is not their home. “It’s the collective responsibility of all in the international community to help these children to get back to their homes.”