Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bangladesh to compile list of Rohingyas for repatriation: UNHCR

Dhaka, Bangladesh (Kaladan): The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), South and Southeast Asian representative, based in Bangkok, Kitty McKinsey has said it is necessary for Bangladesh to have a list of the Rohingyas living in the country, unregistered, otherwise Burma, may object to repatriating the Rohingyas who are not registered.

UNHCR Regional Representative, Raymond Hall, said an initiative should be taken to resolve the Rohingya issue, but cautioned that Burma may raise objections in repatriating the Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, if they were not registered by August 9.

“Burma has allowed UNHCR to work there. The UN body has taken initiatives to improve the residential areas of the Rohingyas,” Hall told Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque.

On other hand, Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni thanked the UNHCR representative for their support to Bangladesh, regarding the Burmese refugees living in Bangladesh, on August 9 at the Foreign Ministry Office. She mentioned that more than 28,000 registered refugees were living in two camps and nearly 4,00,000 unregistered refugees living outside the camps, were a heavy burden on Bangladesh economically, socially, environmentally and also in terms of law and order.

Bangladesh has called on the Burmese regime to improve living conditions for Burma’s Rohingyas in order to stem the flow of refugees. Both Dipu Moni and Hall agreed that Burma must improve its internal environment to stop the influx of Rohingya refugees, into Bangladesh, according to the Bangladesh Foreign Minister’s statement after the meeting.

“They are a heavy burden economically, socially, environmentally on Bangladesh,” Moni said. “Burma has to improve its environment to stop the influx of Rohingya people into Bangladesh,” she emphasized.

A total of 236,599 Rohingyas have been repatriated since 1992, when an influx of the community began from Arakan in Burma, following religious and political persecution. But, their repatriation came to a halt since July 2005, raising concerns for the government.

During the meeting, Dr Dipu Moni and Dr Razzaque said repatriation and rehabilitation of the Rohingyas in their homeland, Burma, is the permanent solution, and this must be done without delay. Bangladesh will take a bilateral initiative to address the problem and sought UNHCR assistance in this regard.

Regarding registering the Rohingyas, the minister said whenever any initiative was taken to register them, they infiltrated into Bangladesh in more numbers.

“Bangladesh has provided shelter to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds, but they are spreading to different areas of the country and creating pressure on the limited resources here and creating social problems as well,” the Minister told the UNHCR representative.

“If the Rohingyas are registered, they will get international organization assistance, and they would be able to go to any developed country for permanent residence,” said the Minister.

However, the UNHCR representative said the Rohingyas enter Bangladesh because Burma restricts their movements, marriages and sends them to jails for violation of the restrictions.

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