Bangladesh will not repatriate any Rohingya “against her or his will” although the country is unjustifiably bearing the brunt of a crisis that originates in Myanmar, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said yesterday.
He however urged the international community to maintain pressure on Myanmar so it creates suitable conditions in Rakhine for a sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas, reports UNB.
"We need to recognise that the problem has its origin in Rakhine and its comprehensive solution has to be found there. Bangladesh is only unjustifiably bearing the brunt of it, till today, as the flow [of Rohingya refugees] did not stop," he said.
Continued deprivation, persecution, disenfranchisement and military atrocities against the whole community of Rohingyas are the root causes of the crisis, he added.
Shahriar made the remarks while addressing the launching of a report -- jointly prepared by Plan International Bangladesh, Save the Children International, and World Vision Bangladesh -- titled “Childhood Interrupted: Children's Voice from Rohingya Camps in Cox's Bazar” in the capital, our correspondent reports.
Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Kazi Reazul Hoque and Country Director of Save the Children Mark Pierce were also present.
At the camps in Cox's Bazar, about one lakh Rohingya refugees are in danger as they are living on hill slopes, Shahriar said, adding that “Twenty three thousand of them have built shelters in extremely dangerous places...” and the government is working on to provide them with safe shelters before the monsoon that starts in March or April.
According to the report, the Rohingya children are being deprived of proper development due to inadequate playgrounds and learning facilities at the refugee camps.
To address the concern, Shahriar said, “It's difficult to find plain lands in the area.” The government will check to see if some sort of indoor games facilities can be provided to the refugee children, our correspondent reports.
Out of the over 655,500 Rohingyas who took shelter in Bangladesh to flee persecution in Myanmar last year, 58 percent of them are children below the age of 18, the report says citing the Unicef.
"It's deeply disturbing to note that among the camp population, around 26,000 of the Rohingya children lost one parent and around 7,000 lost both [parents]," he said, adding that currently these children are under an informal foster care.
The state minister said the primary focus of his government has been to ensure safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the displaced Rohingyas including the children.
Bangladesh currently is providing shelters to over a million forcibly displaced Myanmar residents, the Rohingyas. And "I urge the international community not to lose focus on the Rohingya issue and continue to exert pressure on Myanmar," he said.
Bangladesh has recently handed over a list of 8,032 Rohingyas to be repatriated under the first batch and it is still waiting for the commencement of the repatriation, Shahriar added.