POST TIME: 19 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 June, 2019 12:14:15 AM
World Refugee Day tomorrow
Int’l, regional pressure deemed key to ending Rohingya crisis

Int’l, regional pressure deemed 
key to ending Rohingya crisis

Intensive international and regional pressure on Myanmar is needed for resolving the Rohingya crisis, as a bilateral level solution has not been possible so far, experts said. They said the Government of Bangladesh has already understood that it is not possible to resolve the crisis at the bilateral level. Rather, international and regional cooperation and pressure are needed, they added. The experts, however, are optimistic that the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China, a major regional partner, next month will bring a positive result concerning the Rohingya issue.

When the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is going to observe World Refugee Day on June 20, Bangladesh is hosting over one billion Rohingyas, which has become a mounting pressure on the country. World Refugee Day is observed to raise awareness about the plight of millions of refugees and displaced people around the world.

Although Bangladesh is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, it has taken in a huge influx of Rohingyas, a stateless minority group that fled the persecution of Myanmar army in 2017.

The Government of Bangladesh has been continuing its efforts for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of the Rohingya population through bilateral talks between the two countries, but Myanmar still has not created an environment for their safe repatriation in the Rakhine state.

Various international platforms are standing by Bangladesh to continue its support for repatriation of the Rohingyas, but no significant outcome has been achieved so far.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi has been visiting Rohingya camps both in

Cox’s Bazaar and Myanmar in search

of a solution.

He concluded his five-day visit to Myanmar at the end of last month. He committed to continuing the UNHCR's engagement to help build the confidence that refugees from Myanmar currently in Bangladesh require for their voluntary and safe return, according to UNHCR sites.  While driving in northern Rakhine, Grandi saw stretches of empty land once occupied by Rohingyas now covered by overgrown vegetation. Few signs remain of the houses and markets that once dotted the landscape. This was a stark reminder of the violence of 2017 that caused over 740,000 Rohingyas to flee the country, the UNHCR said.

The High Commissioner noted that for the Rohingya refugee population to return, local development is just one factor in building their confidence.

He emphasised that recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission remain essential, citing his recent visit to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where refugees told him that freedom of movement, access to schools and jobs, and, most critically, pathways to citizenship are the most important issues for their return.

Bangladesh foreign ministry sources said although Myanmar committed and signed an agreement with Bangladesh for the quick return of the Rohingyas, it is dilly-dallying and spreading false information, which is not a good sign.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen has repeatedly said that Myanmar is a friendly neighbour and Bangladesh wants a peaceful solution of the crisis. But the country did not take any significant steps for creating a safe place in the Rakhine state for repatriation.

On June 12, he briefed envoys about the propaganda Myanmar is spreading that the Bangladesh government is not cooperating in the Rohingya repatriation.

The minister said Myanmar is spreading “sheer lies”. It is Myanmar that is not cooperating. The envoys also echoed their support to stand by Bangladesh.

Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at a recent press conference, said: “The problem is with Myanmar. It is unwilling to take back the  Rohingyas, though it signed an agreement with Bangladesh promising to repatriate them.”

Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of International Relations, University of Dhaka, told The Independent yesterday (Tuesday): “We need more international pressure. Already two years have passed. Now the government has understood that bilateral solution is not possible.”

Citing example of creating huge international pressure during the Liberation War, he said: “We need to internationalise the Rohingya crisis in different platforms. We need bigger international conferences to tell the world community about its magnitude.”

“As China is a big player, we have a bigger opportunity to utilise it. The upcoming visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China in July will be a significant one. After the visit we will come to know how much we can work here,” he added.

He said many things have to be done for creating international pressure. “Many people in the world still do not know about the Rohingya crisis. We need to disseminate it through missions abroad.” He also said it is good news that The Gambia is going to file a case in the International Court of Justice against the atrocities committed by the Myanmar army on the Rohingyas. Besides, initiatives should be taken to take up the matter at the International Criminal Court.

It will create huge pressure on Myanmar, he said, adding that sanctions should also be increased on Myanmar by European countries.

The foreign ministry has taken an initiative to unite all foreign honorary consuls general staying in Bangladesh and all honorary consuls general of Bangladesh abroad to create conditions favourable for the repatriation of Rohingyas by issuing a letter on June 11.

Bangladesh has been repeatedly saying that if the Rohingya crisis does not end soon, it might destabilise the region by creating radicalism and thwart the interest of the bigger powers.