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Rohingya repatriation to start any time, says BD FS
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque - File photo

Rohingya repatriation to start any time, says BD FS

Currently over 1.2 million Rohingyas are living in Cox’s Bazar.

Dhaka, Aug 18 – Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque on Sunday said the repatriation process of the Rohingya people to Myanmar is always on the table and it may start at any time.Meanwhile, Rohingya, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) sources said they have been taking preparation centering the repatriation of the first batch of the Rohingyas on August 22
However, the foreign secretary refrained from revealing any exact date, if they have any, about the repatriation, when he was asked putting a media report before him which quoted a spokesperson of Myanmar that the repatriation will begin on August 22.
“The repatriation process is always on the table. It may start at any time. It is a continuous process,” Shahidul Haque said in reply to a query of the journalists at a discussion on “Rohingya Crisis : Way Forward” organised by Red n Green Research at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies in the capita.
However, foreign ministry sources said the repatriation process of the Rohingya is likely to be begun on the August 22. But the date is not being revealed for strategic ground, sources said.
Even Commissioner of RRRC Abul Kalam told The Independent yesterday: “We are taking preparation for the repatriation on August 22. We want to respond the proposal obtained from the Myanmar side. We don’t want to miss any opportunity for the repatriation.”
Asked about whether the Rohingya people who will be repatriated know about it, he said, “Generally many of Rohingyas who will be repatriated know about it. They will come to know more about it tomorrow (Monday).”
He also said they held a meeting yesterday in this regard along with the local administration.
Meanwhile, a spokesman of Myanmar’s ministry of foreign ministry told Reuters on August 15 that the repatriation of 3,540 Rohingya people would begin on August 22.
After it, the foreign ministry avoided saying anything in this regard. It only said they are hopeful and trying for the repatriation.
Shahidul Haque at the discussion said, “Repatriation has always been one of the priority issues for Bangladesh. We have always said that the peaceful solution is to the return of the Rohingyas to their homeland. We have never suggested any alternative or anything else.”
“You will see the next couple of weeks we will try to encourage the Rohingyas to back to their homeland. If they don’t go back to their homeland, they will be deprived of not only land rights but also deprived of own rights,” he added.
“For their own interest they should go back to their own homeland. Going back to their own homeland does not mean that they are being asked to forget about the issue of justice and accountability. Justice and accountability processes have already been begun. It will continue,” he added.
“Right from the day one we were very clear that the Rohingyas have to go back to their own homeland. We continue to pursue this as our priority areas. Behind the screen there are initiatives going on. There are attempts made,” Haque said.
The return of the Rohingyas to their homeland with dignity is expected. Bangladesh government with the international community will continue to work towards that, he said.
The foreign secretary said, “International community has been relatively very generous in helping Rohingyas. There has been also very strong voice found among the international community in favour of Rohingya crisis,”
“UK, America, European Union, Canada have done a lot in this regard. The international court of justice and international criminal court are also working to bring persecution into justice. It would be much easier for Security Council to work on the Rohingya crisis,” he added.
“The Rohigya crisis is not easy. It has never come in an easy way in the world and it will not be easy for us. Our foreign office is looking all options for the resolution of the crisis. We will use every avenue open for us to resolve it,” he added.
“We have to consider the Rohinyas as human beings. The Rohingya issue is an issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh; it is an issue between Myanmar and their nationals,” he said.
He further said, “It’s a humanitarian crisis. But it is not humanitarian crisis alone. It is also a geopolitical crisis, forced displacement, and human rights crisis.”
“Our foreign office is aware of crisis. We have been trying to caliber our own response. We are trying to solve it bilaterally. But we are not abandoning the multilateral approach. We are holding talks both bilateral and multilateral level,” he added. – Staff Reporter