During the meetings between foreign minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali and foreign diplomats over the past two days, the horrendous proportions of the Rohingya refugee problem were highlighted. Bangladesh’s concern and vulnerability over the situation had been conveyed at various times before, but this was the first time that all foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka were given an official briefing on the matter. They also openly expressed their views.
The killings, rape and arson unleashed by the military against the Rohingyas in Myanmar cannot continue in any civilised democratic country. Foreign diplomats have termed this as genocide. We call for a halt to this frenzy of killing and ethnic oppression.
The international community including the UN has praised Bangladesh for providing shelter to the massive number of Rohingyas and has committed to stand by our side. We hail this attitude, but also want to point out that it will not be possible for Bangladesh, an over-populated country beset with multifarious problems, to accommodate such a huge number of refugees for long. Already the number of Rohingya refugees has reached 700,000. Providing them with food and shelter is the immediate problem. Assistance from the international community would give some degree of relief.
However, if no progress is made in repatriating the refugees, this will likely become a serious crisis. The foreign diplomats are aware of the situation. Some have indicated that the issue will be raised at the forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly. But the final decision has to come from the Security Council. That is why we strongly appeal to the five permanent and ten non-permanent members of the Security Council to ensure that Myanmar stops its ethnic cleansing and takes back the Rohingyas from Bangladesh. The global community must take responsibility.
In the meantime, we must keep up our bilateral diplomatic efforts. As, the foreign minister said, “We do not want war.” Let the burden of the Rohingya crisis imposed upon us be resolved. The recommendations of the Kofi Annan commission can be the basis of this resolution.