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Myanmar should convince Rohingyas to return home: Momen

Published: August 23, 2019 17:31:03 | Updated: August 24, 2019 11:08:56


Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said Myanmar should convince Rohingya people, who fled ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the Rakhine State and took shelter in Cox’s Bazar two years ago, to go back their home.

The minister also called on Myanmar to be “accommodative” towards the demands of Rohingyas so that they get the confidence to return home, reports bdnews24.com.

The foreign minister made the remarks on Friday while talking to journalists after the Awami League’s international affairs sub-committee’s discussion on the August 15 National Mourning Day with  diplomats from different countries at the Bangabandhu Memorial Trust.

Momen's remarks came a day after a second failed attempt to start the repatriation of Rohingyas.

However, he said, “We are still hopeful (about Rohingya repatriation).”

The process is still on, said Momen, adding, “Myanmar could not create confidence among them (Rohingya refugees). It's their responsibility to do that. They (Rohingyas) don’t trust Myanmar. Myanmar has to address this trust-deficit”.

He said Bangladesh is always ready to facilitate the return. “We’ll tell Myanmar again that you agreed to take them back, so do whatever is necessary and make that arrangement. We’ll tell the world that we tried our best”.

The minister asked the international agencies to focus their attention on the Rakhine State instead of Cox’s Bazar. “We are taking care of them (Rohingyas) here”.

The Rohingya people have given some conditions for returning, including their citizenship and justice for the crimes such as murder, rape, arson committed against them.

“Myanmar must be accommodative,” the foreign minister said. “If they are not sensitive, then they (Rohingya) will not go back because of fear”.

He said they are also thinking of an international commission that will work in the Rakhine.

“I told UNHCR and others… you don’t need to be here….go to Rakhine,” he said.

The UN agencies are still struggling with the access to the troubled villages in Rakhine. The UNHCR in a statement on Thursday sought “more predictable and effective access” from Myanmar so that they can work to build confidence.

“The UN cannot avoid the responsibility,” he said, when asked.

“The hatred has been there (Rakhine) for a long time. But they did not take that seriously. The UN could take a lead to lessen the hatred.”

In 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Myanmar and took shelter in Bangladesh following an army crackdown in its northwestern Rakhine state.

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