Published: 14 Jan 2019 20:01 BdST Updated: 14 Jan 2019 21:01 BdST
No ‘easy solution’ to Rohingya crisis, says Bangladesh’s new Foreign Minister Momen
Senior Correspondent bdnews24.com
Rohingyas wait for boats at Shah Porir Dwip to go to the mainland in Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf. Photo taken on Sept 16, 2017. Photo: mostafigur rahman
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen does not see any easy solution to the crisis surrounding the Rohingya people, which he says is “a very serious issue”.
AK Abdul Momen. File Photo
“There will be no easy solution. We’ll have to face difficulties,” the newly-appointed minister told reporters at his office on Monday as he took questions. He said he would work hard to devise new plans to deal with the crisis.
“It’s a very serious issue. We have to discuss a lot. After the crisis broke out, our prime minister placed a five-point proposal in the UN General Assembly. But those proposals were not reflected in our negotiations,” he said. “We want solutions,” he said, and added that he was studying strategies for successfully dealing with the crisis.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s proposals included sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar and punishment of those who committed crimes against the minority group, he said. “How will we do that, we don’t know. We’ll work on it. It’s a serious issue. It’ll remain a priority issue,” said the new minister, who was Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the UN from 2009 to 2015. “Myanmar is our friend and neighbour. We expect that Myanmar will give us the return of that friendship. We’ll be happy.”
Momen said he had asked his ministry to make an impact analysis of the crisis from the economic, social and security dimensions. “If the crisis persists, then the interests of our neighbours India, Thailand, Myanmar and China will all be affected. Instabilities may develop. Different interest groups may enter the scene,” he said.
He said he believed the international community did not do enough to resolve the crisis. “It should be everybody’s obligation that no instability is created. All neighbours must work together.”
“We have to make them understand, those who are not paying proper attention, that their interests will also be affected.” He said China has shifted its initial position on the crisis and Russia is also showing positivity.
“Nothing is certain in international politics. Today’s friend can be tomorrow’s enemy. Today’s enemy can be tomorrow’s friend. That’s the world we live in,” he said, replying to questions about China and Russia, which had both vetoed in favour of Myanmar at the UN Security Council. “The issue for us is that we have to work hard if we want to achieve our target,” said the new foreign minister.
Over 700,000 new Rohingya refugees crossed the border into Bangladesh to escape ethnic cleansing after the Myanmar army began a crackdown in Rakhine in late August of 2017. The number of Rohingyas living in Bangladesh is now over 1.1 million. The first phase of the voluntary repatriation plan in mid-Nov last year was stopped because Rohingyas did not want to return in current conditions.