The Financial Express

International donors hold Rohingya conference, though Bangladesh wants repatriation

| Updated: October 22, 2020 19:52:57

International donors hold Rohingya conference, though Bangladesh wants repatriation

The much-hyped international donor conference takes place today (Thursday) to mobilise long-term aid for Rohingya refugees.

Bangladesh, host of the largest number of Rohingyas, has also been invited to the conference, but the country considers that repatriation, not humanitarian aid should be the main focus of the meeting which is expected to be attended by more than 40 countries.

"Our priority is repatriation and we want to hear practical proposals from the participants for sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas," foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said, narrating Bangladesh's stance at the event.

US, UK, EU, and UN Refugee Agency are co-hosting the conference to mobilise support for Rohingya refugees and host countries.

"The conference is organised to get long term aid commitment from the international community. The Ambassadors of the organizing countries have recently invited us to join the conference and off late the US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun also discussed the issue with us during his visit to Bangladesh. We told them clearly that though aid is crucial, we also want to get commitment from the international community about their role in repatriation," the foreign secretary said.

Responding to a question, he said that a sustainable repatriation solely depends on Myanmar as they are responsible for creating a conducive environment for the repatriation.

Asked about the US Deputy Secretary of State's remark that China has failed to show desired result in solving the Rohingya problem, the Bangladesh foreign secretary said China was involved when the bilateral arrangement between Bangladesh and Myanmar was not moving forward.

And then, we had trilateral arrangement and that was helpful, he said, expressing the hope that things would be rolling after the national election in Myanmar.

Earlier talking to the FE, foreign minister Dr AK Momen differed with some of the objectives of the aid conference, saying that if the long-term plan as devised for the stay of Rohingyas here, that might put the repatriation issue into the backburner.

"If possible we are ready to send them back to their homeland tomorrow. We do not want to keep them in our country months after months," the minister said.

"They are talking about the high standard of living for refugees but why don't the organisers pressure Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas so that they can enjoy the high standard of living in their own country," the foreign minister argued.

About the role of the US in the conference, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said the United States is proud to stand with the UK, the EU, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as partners in leading this call to sustain the international crisis response to assist Rohingya refugees and other displaced people, as well as strengthen investment in affected host communities.

"As the world's most generous donor, we are a catalyst for the international humanitarian response and call on others to contribute to this cause - both longstanding partners as well as new and aspiring donors."

The UN has appealed for more than $1 billion in aid to meet the humanitarian needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh this year, but so far less than half has been contributed. This leaves a significant funding gap, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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