Japan will continue to work toward resolution of Rohingya issue: Ambassador
Outgoing Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki has said he sincerely hopes that the "safe, voluntary and dignified" repatriation to Myanmar will happen soon. "As the crisis is turning into its sixth year, it is essential to keep the attention of the global community, while multiple emergencies have been taking place in different parts of the world," he said. The envoy said Japan will continue to work toward the resolution of the Rohingya issue. Read more: Momen ‘not worried’ about Japanese Ambassador’s remarks, calls him a ‘simple, good person’ He said education, skills development and livelihood opportunities are the critical areas of responses for the resilience of the Rohingyas. Ambassador Naoki had an official visit to the camp in Cox's Bazar on Thursday, where over 920,000 Rohingyas reside. Witnessing the ongoing activities in the field, he said, "Every time I visit Rohingya camps, I am impressed by the tireless work of the UN agencies and NGOs for assisting the refugees. This is my last visit to the camp before leaving this country, but I will continue to extend my thoughts and empathy to the government of Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees and host communities." Read more: Japan, UNFPA join hands to provide $3.7 million assistance to Rihingyas in Bhasan Char, host communities in Noakhali He visited an E-voucher outlet and Upcycling Center of WFP, a Learning Center of UNICEF, a skill development site of UNHCR, where Rohingya refugees produce hygiene kits under the collaboration of Japanese company Fast Retailing and UNHCR, and the office of RRRC. Ambassador Naoki also observed the protection and camp management activities of IOM as well as sustainable land management and environmental rehabilitation project of UNHCR. Since the large influx in August 2017, Japan has contributed over 175 million USD to various interventions in Cox's Bazar as well as in Bhasan Char through international organizations and NGOs, according to the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka. These assistances included food assistance, healthcare, WASH, shelter, protection, and gender.
Political violence ‘obviously a concern’, says UN Resident Coordinator
UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis has made it clear that it is not for her or the UN to take decisions or engage in the election process of Bangladesh and laid emphasis on peaceful exercise of political activities. She said people have been injured and killed over the past months which is “obviously a concern” and called for “calm” and to find avenues for discussion. “It’s not for me or the UN to really decide and engage in election,” Lewis said, adding that there is no mandate for the UN to engage in election here unless they get a specific request from the Security Council or General Assembly or the country. Lewis made the remarks while responding to a question at “DCAB Talk” held at Jatiya Press Club. DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke. Read: Dhaka seeks proactive role from Thailand, ASEAN to repatriate Rohingya The UNRC said she is talking with the ministry of home affairs and also talking with various security forces to try and protect lives and find ways on how things can be done in a safe way. Lewis said despite other major developing crises in the world, the United Nations continues to focus on the Rohingya issue, and has been trying to find a political solution. “It’s incredibly challenging. The focus is there,” she said, adding that they are working on the ground for the safe and dignified return of the displaced Rohingyas – currently in Bangladesh – to Myanmar.
BNP for proactive role of Asian, western countries in resolving Rohingya crisis
Stating that Rohingyas are becoming a big burden for Bangladesh, BNP on Thursday said the repatriation of Myanmar’s displaced citizens will not be possible without a proactive role of the international community, especially that of the influential Asian and western countries. Speaking at a press conference, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also said the government has failed miserably to resolve the Rohingya problem over the last five years as it has been using the issue for its political gain. “Bangladesh has been bearing the burden of more than 1 million Rohingyas while on average 30,000 Rohingya children are being added every year. Accordingly, the number of Rohingyas has increased to more than 12 lakhs in the last 4 years and this number will continue to increase day by day,” he said. Against this backdrop, the BNP leader said international solidarity toward Bangladesh and Rohingya refugees is needed now more than ever. “It’s not possible to send the Rohingyas back to Myanmar unless the international community, including India, China, Japan, the United States and the European countries exert more effective pressure,” He said the Bangladesh government has to intensify its diplomatic and political efforts to encourage the international community to mount pressure on Myanmar to take back its citizens. “Though many countries of the world have protested the violence against the Rohingyas, it is regrettable that Myanmar also has large business relations with many of them. The Bangladesh government should identify this dual position of the countries and stop them by carrying out vigorous diplomatic efforts,” he observed. Read: Human Rights Violation: BNP wants impendent probe under UN supervision Fakhrul bemoaned that the current government is failing to take a clear, effective and specific position on the issues due to narrow political reasons. BNP arranged the press conference at its chairperson’s Gulshan office, marking five years since the first of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women, boys, and girls fled violence and persecution in Myanmar and sought refuge in what is now the world’s largest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar. Fakhrul warned that Bangladesh is going to fall into a big crisis as the government has failed to take any effective steps to resolve this crisis. Underscoring the need for establishing a democratic government in the country to resolve this crisis, he said the government has failed to exert pressure internationally on Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas due to its knee-jerk foreign policy. “As this government is not a democratic one, it could not get support for Rohingya repatriation in the international arena." The BNP secretary general said the Rohingya problem is causing unbearable pressure on the economy of Bangladesh apart from creating extreme instability and uncertainty in the local environment and social life. “Drug trade, women trafficking and various anti-social and illegal activities are going on in Rohingya camps which are contributing to the making the situation turbulent and unstable. Rohingyas are involved in drug smuggling and drug trafficking and indulging in internal conflict. These issues have become a cause of extreme concern,” he said.
Bangladesh can’t cover on its own the needs of Rohingyas in Bangladesh: APHR
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) has said Bangladesh cannot cover on its own the needs of about 1 million Rohingya refugees. “The sad truth is that, by and large, the international community has failed the Rohingya. It is a crying shame that, so far, the global community has only provided a meagre 13% of the Joint Response Plan adopted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to fund the camps,” said Mercy Barends, APHR Board Member and member of the Indonesian House of Representatives. On the other hand, Barends said, ASEAN member states should stop treating the Rohingya in their countries as ‘illegal immigrants,’ and start providing them with the protection they deserve and need as refugees. She recognized the extraordinary generosity of the Bangladeshi government and people, who have provided refuge for Rohingya people for the past five years. The APHR Board Member made the remarks on the fifth anniversary of the Myanmar military's "clearance operations" against the Rohingya in Northern Rakhine State, known as "Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day.” Read: Hun Sen’s rogue diplomacy a threat to ASEAN, Myanmar: APHR “On this somber occasion, five years since the Myanmar military forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to abandon their homes through a campaign of genocidal violence, we mourn the thousands who died, and stand with all the survivors who continue to live without basic rights and services in camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar,” Barends said. She said it is long past time for ASEAN governments and their partners to take swift and stern action against the perpetrators of the most serious crimes against humanity on the Rohingya people. “Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his close allies should not be in power; they should be in court. They have taken the international failure to act five years ago as a license to illegally grab power from elected officials on 1 February 2021 and commit further atrocities that continue to this very day,” Barends said.
Rohingya issue must remain an international priority: EU
The European Commission has said addressing the root causes of the protracted crisis, including the systematic abuses suffered by the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State, must remain an international priority. "In this regard, the European Union (EU) fully supports the work of the International Court of Justice," said High Representative/Vice-President Borrell, Commissioner Lenarcic and Commissioner Urpilainen on the 5th anniversary of the Rohingya crisis. The EU continues to advocate for the "safe, sustainable, dignified, and voluntary" return of the Rohingya refugees to their places of origin. The EU also continues to support the work of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to ensure full accountability for the crimes committed against them, reads the statement. On 25 August 2017, the world witnessed the beginning of the forced displacement of more than 750 000 Rohingya people from Rakhine State in Myanmar, fleeing violence and persecution from the Myanmar military. The vast majority of them settled temporarily in the Cox's Bazar District of Bangladesh, whereas others fled across the region. Read: UNHCR seeks more support from international community for Rohingyas Five years later, and despite international efforts and calls on Myanmar to create the conditions for their return to their homeland, the future of the Rohingya remains uncertain, reads the statement. Bangladesh, in particular, has been hosting Rohingyas for decades, and since 2017 has expended considerable effort to ensure their protection and provide shelter and vital humanitarian assistance to almost one million Rohingya refugees. "Whereas the EU will - also through international organisations - continue to support Bangladesh in its fundamentally human and laudable response to the crisis, five years later, the provision of humanitarian assistance alone is reaching its limits," reads the statement. It is necessary to also identify and implement more sustainable interim solutions addressing the humanitarian, development, and peace dimensions of this crisis, pending their return, it said. In this context, the EU will continue to support international dialogue for peace and reconciliation efforts. Appalling crimes, including reported war crimes and crimes against humanity, have been committed against Rohingya and persons belonging to other minorities in Myanmar. "These crimes call for accountability. Today, the same military leadership responsible for the crimes against the Rohingya is leading Myanmar's junta," reads the statement. The EU reiterated its strong condemnation of the 1 February 2021 coup and of the grave human rights violations committed by the Myanmar Armed Forces against all the people of Myanmar since then. The EU expressed its unequivocal support for all the people of Myanmar, including Rohingya and other minorities, and their democratic aspirations.
Bangladesh truly a champion of migration management: IOM
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has appreciated Bangladesh’s overall migration management and its efforts to stop irregular migration. “On migration management, Bangladesh is really a champion. There is quite a big that your government has done….fair enough to say very strong on migration management,” said Deputy Director General of IOM Ugochi Daniels while responding to a question from UNB on Tuesday. During a small group media briefing at a city hotel, Daniels appreciated bilateral agreements on workers recruitment which will help prevent irregular migration. She laid emphasis on continued efforts to address the root causes - access to education, healthcare and access to livelihoods – and make people well-prepared with adequate knowledge, skills and requirements – before going abroad. “That is what is going to ultimately end the irregular migration.” Read:Dhaka calls for more IOM role in helping climate migrants
Encouraged by Malaysia’s leadership on Myanmar crisis: UN expert
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, on Thursday expressed his appreciation for Malaysia’s increasing leadership on the crisis in Myanmar. He urged States in the region to adopt a similar approach to the human rights catastrophe unfolding under military rule. “Too much is at stake for Myanmar and its people to accept complacency and inaction by the international community,” Andrews said in a statement at the end of an eight-day visit to Malaysia. He said Junta forces have killed more than 2,000 civilians, arrested more than 14,000, displaced more than 700,000, driving the number of internally displaced persons well over one million, and plunged the country into an economic and humanitarian crisis that threatens the lives and wellbeing of millions. ““The military’s attacks on the people of Myanmar constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. No one has been spared the impact of the military’s violence,” said the UN expert. Andrews said that even before the coup, the Myanmar military had committed atrocities against the people of Myanmar. Read: Myanmar questioned for not fulfilling Rohingya repatriation pledge “The Rohingya faced genocidal attacks by Myanmar security forces. I have learned that there are over 104,000 registered Rohingya in Malaysia who have fled from Myanmar seeking safe haven with untold numbers who are unregistered,” he said. Those who fled Myanmar also told Andrews about the challenges they faced in Malaysia, citing fears of being sent to migration detention, insufficient education opportunities for their children, and instances of extortion by police officers. “Let me be clear, refugees from Myanmar are here because they were forced to come here. Their inability to return to their homes in Myanmar is directly linked to the military junta’s human rights violations and war against the people of Myanmar. It is impossible to address issues related to those seeking refuge in Malaysia and other nations in the region without directly and effectively addressing the crisis inside of Myanmar,” Andrews said. Malaysia not only recognizes this fact, it has been willing, through the words and actions of Foreign Minister Saifuddin, to challenge ASEAN to reexamine their current policy on Myanmar, the UN expert said, adding that Foreign Minister Saifuddin had called on ASEAN to move from a policy of “noninterference” to, in his words, one of “non-indifference”. “Malaysia has given voice to the obvious fact that after more than one year, nothing has moved and since nothing has moved, more people are being killed and more people are being forced to flee the country,” Andrews said. He has not only called for ASEAN to engage with the Myanmar National Unity Government, he has begun engaging with the National Unity Government’s Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung, Andrews said. “I look forward to working to support Malaysia’s foreign policy leadership on Myanmar, to affirm the human rights of a people under siege and to reduce the incredible scale of human suffering in Myanmar.”
Speakers laud Malaysia’s role in Rohingya issue, stress diversification in bilateral relations
Malaysia’s strong support to Bangladesh in the Rohingya crisis was lauded at a webinar that focused on shared heritage and extremely good relations between the two Muslim-majority countries. The webinar titled “Bangladesh-Malaysia Relations: Prognosis for the Future” was hosted by Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cosmos Group. The opening remarks were delivered by Cosmos Foundation Executive Director Nahar Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, a renowned scholar-diplomat and former adviser on foreign affairs to the last caretaker government. Malaysian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Haznah Md Hashim was the keynote speaker at the dialogue that will premiere on Thursday evening. Ambassador (retd) Farooq Sobhan, Yanitha Meena, a researcher in the Foreign Policy and Security Studies programme of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Dhaka University Professor Imtiaz Ahmed and Dhaka University Professor Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titumiir were panel discussants. Read: Cosmos dialogue on Bangladesh-South Korea relations to be premiered Thursday The Chair, Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury , described the excellent bilateral relations as “unsurprising”, given the commonalities of values between the two Muslim-majority nations. “We look to Malaysia to keep up the sharp focus on the Rohingya issue in ASEAN, as well as in other regional fora” he said. Dr Chowdhury commended the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for describing the atrocities perpetrated by Myanmar authorities’ as “genocide”. He reflected on the possibility of the events of ethnic cleansing and other crimes triggering the principle of “the responsibly to protect” in line with the relevant United Nations resolutions. Highlighting the Bangladesh-Malaysia relations, he said the two countries will need to work closely together, to ensure the survival of a rule-based global community, after the” double whammy” of Covid and the crisis in Europe. High Commissioner Haznah, in her key-note address, stressed that Malaysia and Bangladesh should capitalise on the existing strong relations between the two countries. She recalled her country’s long relations with Bangladesh in trade and investment, education, culture, tourism as well as technical assistance. Read: Cosmos Dialogue on Dhaka-Washington ties premieres Saturday on Facebook Bangladesh, the high commissioner noted, was currently Malaysia’s 30th largest trading partner, and ranked second among South Asian countries. Haznah hoped that the bilateral trade value between Malaysia and Bangladesh would reach the figure of up to USD 4 billion in five years. The ultimate goal, she believed, should be the establishment of a Free Trade Agreement to strengthen and diversify bilateral economic relations between the two nations. The high commissioner listed the areas like defence, aero-space and food security where bilateral cooperation could also be enhanced. About the Rohingya issue, she assured that Malaysia will remain one of the strongest supporters of Bangladesh in raising it in multilateral forums. In his remarks Farooq Sobhan said Bangladesh needs to focus much more on its Look East policy. “The centrepiece of this Look East policy, in my view, is our relations with ASEAN in particular,” he observed. Recalling significant landmark bilateral visits in the past, Farooq Sobhan stressed the continued need for such interactions. Read: Cosmos Dialogue on Bangladesh’s ties with Nordic countries Saturday Dr Imtiaz proposed floating a new platform between the two States, similar to the “Bangladesh-India Foundation, for consolidating mutual cooperation further. He said it can be a public-private partnership. “We can invite some private entrepreneurs as well to build the foundation.” Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir highlighted the issue of FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP to deepen the bilateral cooperation between the two nations. Currently, he said most of the important Asian state-players have joined RCEP and it was expected that these growing economies of Asia will dominate the global market in the next decade. He focused on transparent, fair and safe migration that complied with the provisions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Malaysian researcher Yanitha Meena said Malaysia and Bangladesh had signed an agreement on labour recruitment which is a very important part of the relationship between the two friendly nations. “It’s the right step and a highly appreciated part of our relations. This does not come without challenges, as we have seen that there are several challenges to actually come to labour relations,” she added. Cosmos Foundation Executive Director Nahar Khan said it is notable how Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur have remained truly 'all-weather' friends and allies for half a century. She lauded Malaysia’s role in providing aid and services to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Bangladesh hopes that Malaysia would continue its political pressure on Myanmar, to make them see the wisdom in creating a suitable environment in their Northern Rakhine state for full repatriation of the community, at the earliest, Khan said. Read: Cosmos dialogue on EU’s contemporary relevance begins “On the economic front, the time is truly right for Bangladesh-Malaysia to step up their engagement as they strive to move up the economic ladder within this decade,” she observed. With the growing focus on the Blue Economy, Khan said it was now opportune moment for Dhaka and Putrajaya to explore maritime engagement, as additional dimension of Bangladesh-Malaysia relations. “For this, the obvious arena for maritime engagement to commence would be the Bay of Bengal, and other regional waters, which have grown in importance as a critical maritime theatre in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean,” she added. The speakers were agreed that this important deliberation and exchange of ideas organised by the Cosmos Foundation will enormously assist the widening and deepening of bilateral relations.
Want actions, not words: Hasina to global community over Rohingya crisis
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the global community to turn their “words and rhetoric” over the Rohingya crisis into actions to reach a desired solution to the protracted problem. “We need to go beyond words and rhetoric to have tangible actions to reach a desired outcome which is also the cherished desire of the Rohingyas. Bangladesh will continue to work with all until this solution comes,” she said. The Prime Minister said this while speaking a High-Level Side Event on “Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (Rohingya) crisis: Imperatives for a Sustainable Solution” here on Wednesday. Bangladesh arranged the event, while eight other countries, including the UK, Ireland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia cosponsored it.
Rohingya issue not to disappear from agenda despite new global challenges: EU
Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Ambassador Rensje Teerink has said the Rohingya issue will not disappear from the agenda until a lasting solution is found even though the world is now facing challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic and a situation in Afghanistan. “I don’t have the magic recipe nor do I have the crystal ball to see how this situation will evolve. But I can make sure that it (Rohingya issue) will not disappear from the agenda,” said the outgoing EU Ambassador, noting that the issue is something really close to her heart personally having seen and visited the Rohingya camps many times. Recognizing a lot of focus on Afghanistan, Ambassador Teerink said that does not mean that the Rohingya issue should disappear. “I will keep on following this.” Read: EU promises 10mn Covid-19 vaccine doses for Bangladesh The EU envoy made the remarks while responding to a question at a virtual dialogue titled “Bangladesh-European Union Relations: Prognosis for the Future” premiered on Thursday where she delivered the keynote speech. Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue as part of its ongoing Ambassador’s Lecture Series. The opening remarks were delivered by Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government. Distinguished Fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, former BGMEA President and Mohammadi Group Chairperson Dr Rubana Huq, founder Chairman of Policy Research Institute (CRI) Dr Zaidi Sattar and Professor at International Relations Department of Dhaka University Imtiaz Ahmed and Honorary Advisor Emeritus, Cosmos Foundation Ambassador (Retd) Tariq A Karim comprised the panel of discussants. Enayetullah Khan raised the issues like growing US-China conflict, Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and crisis in Afghanistan; and said it seems that the Rohingya refugee issue is almost fading away from people’s minds. Terming the Rohingya issue a very “complex and complicated” one, he said without cooperation from the three important countries – India, China and Japan – he does not think the Rohingya issue can be resolved. Khan wanted to know from the EU Ambassador what the EU can do to help Bangladesh resolve this problem created by Myanmar. In reply, Ambassador Teerink said first of all a political solution of course needs to be found in Myanmar itself, but it is very tragic to see that a coup happened in Myanmar on February 1 making it difficult to reach out to Myanmar. “It is really an enormous setback. That is the reality we need to face.” Looking at the reality of the dynamics at the UN Security Council, the Ambassador said they have unfortunately seen the situation there and it has not been very positive. She recognized that Bangladesh is reaching out to India, China and Japan to continue discussions with those countries as their partners. “It is always on the agenda.” The EU has also been providing significant funding for lifesaving assistance to Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh's Cox’s Bazar district through international NGOs and the UN. The 25 August 2021 marked the fourth anniversary of the mass fleeing of over 740,000 Rohingya from Myanmar, following major outbreaks of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees currently live in Cox's Bazar district and Bhasan Char; and over 150,000 in other countries of the region. Decoupling the Rohingya issue from economic interests, Prof Imtiaz said there are two things -- pandemic and Rohingya -- that are now major concerns for Bangladesh, and these two central things are involved with the political economy of Bangladesh.