Sunday, November 20, 2011

Repatriation only solution to Rohingya refugees: Razzak

Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzak today said repatriation of the Rohingya refugees and their rehabilitation in own country is the only solution for them, reports BSS.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should work to motivate the Rohingya refugees in this regard, he said when its visiting assistant high commissioner for operation Janet Lim met him at his secretariat office.

Despite being a poor country, Bangladesh has been providing assistance to the Rohingya refugees, Razzak said adding it is very difficult for the country to bear the Rohingya problems for a long time.

In recent time, some positive changes are seen within the Myanmar government. Taking this into consideration, he said, the UNHCR could play a role in the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees, he added. 

Praising Bangladesh government's assistance extended to Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Janet Lim said Bangladesh should give more attention to malnutrition problem that is prevailing in the refugee camp.

Janet Lim said family books are used for providing food and other assistances to the Rohingya refugees. But the UNHCR has introduced card system in 18 countries in the world to extend different supports for refugees, she added.

The visiting assistant high commissioner of UNHCR sought cooperation of Bangladesh to introduce the card system. 

In a response to her comment, the minister said malnutrition is a common problem for Bangladesh and people of different parts of the country are suffering from it.

Secretary of Disaster Management and Relief Division Dr M Aslam Alam and Representative of UNHCR Craig Sender, among others, were present on the occasion. 

Sources at the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management said nearly 24,000 registered Rohingya refugees are living at Cox's Bazar camp.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Sunday sought further support from UNHCR for future repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar on voluntary basis, foreign ministry and the UN agency sources said.

"Both sides agreed to intensify voluntary repatriation of documented and undocumented Rohingya refugees to their motherland Myanmar," Ms. Janet Lim, assistant high commissioner of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told journalists after her meeting with Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni at her office.

Janet Lim said UNHCR has helped resolve the two-decade long problem from the very beginning and has so far helped repatriation of 230,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

She said her organization would continue to help resolve the issue with 'voluntary' repatriation of 28,000 plus documented refugees as well as thousands of undocumented refugees living in Bangladesh.

Director General of United Nations of Foreign Ministry Saida Muna Tasneem later told journalists that Bangladesh has always been pursuing the voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas and not a single person was forced back to Myanmar. 

She said Bangladesh showed the highest level of tolerance and sympathy to the refugees, despite being the fact that it has little resources to accommodate such a big number of documented and undocumented refugees.

The issue of repatriation came to the forefront again after Myanmar responded positively to bring its nationals back home at a time when Bangladesh has been experiencing bitter experiences from the refugees both at home and abroad, which include security concern and law and order deterioration in greater Cox's Bazar, the world's longest sea beach, and a booming economic zone. 

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni held several meetings with newly appointed Pakistan High Commissioner to Bangladesh Afrasiab Mehdi Hashmi, Spanish Ambassador Luis Tejada Chacon and visiting deputy director general of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Manoj Juneza. They discussed issues of mutual interests. 

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