POST TIME: 19 September, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 September, 2019 01:41:22 AM
Resolving Rohingya crisis
Dhaka to seek stronger global efforts at UNGA
Diplomatic Correspondent, Dhaka

Dhaka to seek stronger global efforts at UNGA

Bangladesh is going to utilise the upcoming 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to intensify pressure on Myanmar to begin Rohingya repatriation. The foreign ministry said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other ministers, including the foreign minister, would raise the Rohingya issue at various meetings. Besides, Bangladesh and Myanmar would meet on the sidelines, with China acting as the mediator to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said this at a curtain-raiser on the upcoming UNGA at the foreign ministry in the capital. State minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam and foreign secretary Shahidul Islam, among others, were present on the occasion.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would reiterate the five-point proposal of the 72nd session and the three-point proposal of the 73rd session for a quick resolution of the Rohingya crisis. Besides, Bangladesh will strongly place the Rohingya issue at the general assembly to expedite Rohingya repatriation,” Momen said. In addition, the Prime Minister will place some specific proposals to address the crisis, he added.

In reply to a query, Momen said: “We have made enough plans to to hold a tripartite meeting among Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.” He, however, said the UNGA secretary general were not likely to participate in the meetings. “The Prime Minister will place her speech to ensure the safety, security and free mobility of Rohingyas. We will place the previous proposals in new and different forms,” he added.

“Myanmar has created this crisis. We have support from all. But recently, our hopes have been raised further because various countries, including China that has deep relations with Myanmar, support our proposals and are continuing their efforts. China’s efforts are visible. We hope we will get a peaceful solution soon,” he noted.

The foreign minister said the high-level meeting of UNGA would begin on September 24 and continue till September 29. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave Dhaka tomorrow afternoon and is scheduled to reach New York on Sept 22 to join the session.  The foreign minister, education minister, health minister, commerce minister, environment minister, state minister for foreign affairs, Prime Minister’s private industry and investment adviser, and chaorman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, among others, will be in the prime minister’s entourage.

This year’s theme of the UNGA is: “Galvanising multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion.” Based on this theme, there would be debates on climate change, poverty eradication, quality education, inclusive development, women’s empowerment, migration, refugee issues and sustainable development goals.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will join the “Universal Health Coverage” meeting on September 23. Besides, the prime minister on September 23 will take part in the ‘Climate Change Summit 2019’ at the invitation of UN secretary general António Guterres. Both Bangladesh and the United Kingdom will jointly lead the climate resilience issue, the foreign minister said.

The Prime Minister will be given an award —‘Vaccine Hero—in recognition of the outstanding success in expanded immunisation programme. The award will be given by the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI), now GAVI-The Vaccine Alliance.

On September 24, the Prime Minister will participate in a side event on global commission on adaptation. She will also join another side meeting titled the ‘Situation of Rohingya minority in Myanmar’, jointly organised by Bangladesh and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to get the cooperation of Muslim countries for a quick repatriation. She will also join an event titled ‘Leadership matters—relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in the contemporary world’.

On September 25, she will take part in a ‘high-level political forum’ on sustainable development. She will be awarded the ‘Champion of skill development for youth’ at the event.

On September 27, she will join an event titled ‘Sustainable universal health coverage: Comprehensive primary care inclusion of mental health and disabilities’ to highlight Bangladesh’s success in community health clinic and initiatives on mental health and autism.

On September 27, the Prime Minister will join the UNGA debate and deliver her speech in Bangla, highlighting development progress, inclusive economic development, digital Bangladesh, success in health and education and women empowerment.

Besides, she will announce a grant of USD 1 lakh to the trust fund initiated by the UN secretary general for conducting the new Resident Coordinator System.

She will also exchange views with members of the renowned US think tank Council on Foreign Relations on September 25. Next day, she would join a meeting of the US Chamber of Commerce to enhance trade relations between the two countries.

During her tour, Hasina will also attend the luncheon given by the UN secretary general and join the reception of the US president.  She will also have bilateral meetings with different heads of state including the UN secretary general, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, president of Global Hope Coalition, ICC chief prosecutor and the chief executive of Exon Mobil.  She will also attend the reception given by the Bangladeshi expatriates living in the USA.

Hasina will also give an interview to the Wall Street Journal’s Frontier Markets editor Dan Keeler on September 25 and another interview to the Washington Post to be taken by its foreign affairs writer Ishaan Tharoor on September 27.

The foreign minister said he would join a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament. “We have already signed the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Bangladesh signed the treaty on the first day when it was opened for signature,” he added. He also said he would join the OIC contact group meeting on the Rohingya issue, commonwealth foreign minister’s meeting, commonwealth ministerial group meeting, and other meetings like that of SAARC, NAM, G-77, Asian Co-operation dialogue, CICA, LDC Group, among others.

Asked about the Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue, Momen said: “Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will discuss the issue with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in New York. The matter would be elaborately discussed during her visit to Delhi in October. She will then discuss all problems of Bangladesh with India.”

“NRC is not a problem concerning us. It’s an internal issue of India. But some persons have concerns about it,” he added.

Asked about Bangladesh’s stance on human rights violation in Kashmir, Momen said, “Pakistan’s foreign minister phoned me. He expressed their position on the Kashmir issue. We have also informed him about our position. It’s the internal matter of India. But, on principle, Bangladesh wants development of people and peace.”