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Cambodia can play strategic role in resolving Rohingya crisis

Raquel R Bacay / Khmer Times Share:
Children collect water at the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp. Bayazid Akter | Dreamstime.com

Dhaka, Bangladesh – Bangladeshi Foreign Affairs Minister AK Abdul Momen has called on countries around the world to urge Myanmar to repatriate Rohingya refugees temporarily housed in his country.

Since 2015, more than one million Rohingya have fled from their homes in Rakhine state to nearby Cox’s Bazar. Currently, the area around it is classified as the world’s largest refugee settlement, with about 1.1 million Rohingya who settled in southeast Bangladesh.

Mr Abdul Momen last week addressed 36 media and academic delegates from 20 countries during a week-long tour of Bangladesh as part of its “Visit Bangladesh 2019” initiative and said the country welcomes any assistance to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

“We had our crisis prior to liberation when we had to flee to India to seek refuge from the horrors – and genocide – inflicted upon us by our occupiers,” he said, referring to Bangladesh’s liberation war with Pakistan in 1971. “This was not too long ago and it is still fresh in our memories.”

“Thus, when  refugees  flee from Myanmar for fear of persecution, ethnic cleansing and genocide, we have to open our hearts and land to accept them and give them shelter while we find an amicable political settlement to this crisis,” Mr Abdul Momen added.

Mr Abdul Momen noted Bangladesh’s senior officials within the country and diplomats abroad have been calling on Cambodian leaders to help them intervene and resolve the Rohingya crisis.

“Make no mistake, the Rohingya want to return home. However, they fear for their safety and security and also retaliatory measures against them if they were to return to Rakhine state without assurances from any party,” he said.

“We have proposed unarmed observers to facilitate this but thus far, Myanmar has remained silent. This is still a positive sign as we continue negotiations on a bilateral basis while calling on multilateral intervention to resolve the crisis. We simply cannot afford to keep them on our land for too long,” Mr Abdul Momen added.

He said Bangladesh has provided shelter to Rohingya refugees, but very little has been done by the international community to repatriate them back to Myanmar, while tensions have grown between the refugees and locals due to fear the Rohingya in Bangladesh may not return to Myanmar.

Mr Abdul Momen said Myanmar must provide justice, international protection and full citizenship to the Rohingya.

“We are aware of the dangers and challenges we are facing with these refugees. The world has no borders. Similarly, displaced people with anger in their mind can be difficult to control and terrorism knows no borders as well,” he said.

“Thus it is imperative that the world helps find a workable solution for the Roginhya crisis. Towards this end, our prime minister’s four-point for a solution to the crisis should be seriously considered as it is a practical and workable plan,” Mr Abdul Momen added.

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