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The Financial Express

Bangladesh no longer links Rohingya's citizenship issue with repatriation

| Updated: November 16, 2020 11:35:18


Lankabangla and Fianancial Express Lankabangla and Fianancial Express
Reuters file photo Reuters file photo

Bangladesh does not want to tag the citizenship rights issue with the repatriation of Rohingya refugees.

Several Rohingya community leaders and rights groups have been vocal about ensuring citizenship rights of refugees before their repatriation to Myanmar.

"We do not think that placing the citizenship issue as a prerequisite to the repatriation is a practical idea," foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said.

Referring to Bangladesh's stance, he said, rather there should be a process through which the Rohingya can obtain citizenship in Myanmar after returning home.

Bangladesh focuses on logistics, security and accountability aspects to ensure voluntary, dignified and safe repatriation of the Rohingya, he added.

Bangladesh is expecting the resumption of the trilateral meeting with China and Myanmar to expedite the repatriation process.

The process has been stalled since the beginning of this year due to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic and Myanmar's general elections, which ended last week.

"We have already contacted China in this connection and they also hope to resume the process soon," the foreign secretary told the FE.

However, Bangladesh thinks that the engagement of the ASEAN countries, of which Myanmar is a member, is also crucial to ensuring a conducive environment in the Rakhine State, the home of the Rohingya.

Asked whether Bangladesh was putting more eggs in China's basket in resolving the Rohingya crisis, the foreign secretary said that the East Asian nation has warmer ties with Myanmar than any other countries.

But it needs the engagement of all the neighbours of Myanmar and ASEAN countries to make it happen. Bangladesh is also closely in touch with the UN system, he added.

ASEAN countries and the neighbours of Myanmar, including India, can also play a crucial role with regard to the sustainable return of the Rohingya.

Bangladesh hopes that if civilian observers from these countries can be placed in Rakhine to monitor the situation in the state after the repatriation then the Rohingya will be encouraged to return to their homes as a fear factor has become the main impediment to voluntary repatriation.

Mr Masud said that Bangladesh is heavily burdened with the long presence of the Rohingya refugees--economically and socially.

A prolonged presence of the Rohingya may trigger radicalism and violence causing instability in the region, which would pose threat economic growth of the countries.

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