Committed to support mutually-acceptable solution to enable return of Rohingya refugees: India
Dhaka, Mar 2: There is no difference between India and Bangladesh on addressing the issue of displaced Rohingya Muslims, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Monday, as he expressed New Delhi’s fullest support for any mutually-acceptable solution for their earliest possible return to Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Bangladesh is home to nearly a million Rohingya including 740,000 who fled a military crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017 that the UN has called ethnic cleansing.
Addressing a seminar in Dhaka on ‘Bangladesh & India: A Promising Future’, Shringla said India was deeply appreciative of the spirit of humanism that motivated Bangladesh to offer shelter to nearly one million displaced people.
He said there is also often “uninformed speculation” about India’s position on the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State of Myanmar, and its impact upon Bangladesh.
“And we fully recognise and sympathise with the enormous burden that you are facing,” Shringla said.
“As the only country that is an actual neighbour of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, we are committed to offering the fullest support for any mutually-acceptable solution that will enable earliest possible return of displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine state and to life of dignity,” he said.
“This should be done in a manner that is safe secure and sustainable,” Shringla said.
Shringla said India has provided five tranches of aid to the camps in Cox’s Bazar area through the government of Bangladesh and are prepared to do more.
Cox’s Bazar is the area where nearly a million Rohingya live in camps after many fled Myanmar.
“We are investing in the socio-economic development of the Rakhine area, including housing, so that there is an incentive not only for people to return, but for all communities to focus on cooperative solutions for economic development, rather than compete for limited resources,” he said.
Myanmarese President U Win Myint last week visited India during which the two sides signed 10 agreements with a focus on the socio-economic development of the southeast Asian nation’s conflict-torn Rakhine state.
Shringla said India was consistent in its interventions with the government of Myanmar at all levels, on the importance of closing IDP camps, facilitating socio-economic development projects, and in offering a conducive environment to encourage displaced persons to return to their homes in Myanmar from Bangladesh.
“In other words, there is no difference between India and Bangladesh on the way forward in addressing this major humanitarian problem.
India encourages “diverse stakeholders to lower the rhetoric and find practical and pragmatic solutions, bearing in mind that the priority is finding a fair and dignified humanitarian outcome,” Shringla said.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar has denied citizenship to Rohingya since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless.
It does not recognise Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic group and insists they are Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in the country.
Seven Rohingya shot dead near Bangladesh refugee camp
Cox’s Bazar, Mar 2 : Bangladeshi elite police on Monday shot dead seven suspected Rohingya gangsters involved in drug and people smuggling, a spokesman for the force said.
Tensions are rising in south-east Bangladesh two and a half years after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fled a military offensive in Myanmar.
The latest gunfight came after a recent spike in human smuggling as gangs lure refugees onto rickety fishing boats for often dangerous sea journeys to Malaysia.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said it was involved in a three-hour shootout with members of a bandit group led by notorious Rohingya gang leader known as Zokir.
“So far we have recovered seven bodies with bullet wounds,” RAB spokesman Abdullah Sheikh Sadi told AFP.
He added that it was unclear if Zokir was among the dead.
Last month a boat packed with at least 138 Rohingya — mostly women and children — sank en route to Malaysia. Some 44 passengers are missing presumed drowned.
Since last year, Bangladeshi authorities have picked up over 700 Rohingya from fishing trawlers or coastal villages as they waited to board boats.
Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed a repatriation deal but the refugees have so far refused to go home without guarantees for their safety.
Rights groups regularly accuse Bangladeshi security forces of staging encounters with criminals in what in effect are extrajudicial executions. (AFP)