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1 October, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Myanmar has to begin Rohingya repatriation soon, says ASEAN

DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
Myanmar has to begin Rohingya repatriation soon, says ASEAN

Myanmar has to begin soon the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who took shelter in Bangladesh, said the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The suffering of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, who had to cross into Cox’s Bazar owing to the atrocities of the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and people from other ethnic groups in Rakhine, is a humanitarian disaster and unacceptable, it says.

“We had the ASEAN meeting (on the sidelines of the 73rd session of United Nations General Assembly). Obviously, one salient, sensitive issue was the situation in the Rakhine State,” Vivian Balakrishnan, the foreign minister of Singapore, the current chair of ASEAN, told reporters at United Nations headquarters in New York on Saturday.

“The key point that ASEAN made to Myanmar in this meeting was that we stand ready to help and that one key next step is that repatriation, the safe, voluntary, dignified return of refugees needs to occur, and needs to occur soon,” he said. “And that ASEAN would work with Myanmar to facilitate this process. This is something which we will have to watch in the next few weeks, next few months, to what extent that can be achieved,” he added.

To a question, the Singaporean foreign minister said, “From an ASEAN perspective, we supported the appointment of the Independent Commission of Enquiry and as I said just now we expect this enquiry to be conducted impartially, expeditiously, independently and hold people who are responsible fully accountable. That’s on the accountability side of it.”

“That’s not all,” he said, adding “Right now, a million people are suffering there. It is a humanitarian disaster and unacceptable in this day and age. These people need help and you need to make sure humanitarian assistance reaches them.”

“We are also grateful to Bangladesh for hosting them in the interim. But the next step has to be repatriation, since there was an agreement signed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in November last year,” said the minister.

“It is now September. At some point, in order to remain credible you have to see some movement, at least an initial wave of refugees on a voluntary basis. You need to see that they are able to move back in a dignified, safe manner. So, that’s really the next step and it’s an important confidence building step, but we also have to be cognisant that the long-term solution is a political solution,” he said. “Myanmar has to create a society where there is security, peace, justice, fairness and better prospects for everyone. Without that underlying foundation, we’re not going to solve a problem that has been around for two and half centuries,” said the Singaporean minister. “So, we will do our best, but Myanmar has to

exercise its responsibility. ASEAN stands ready to help,” he said.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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