India pressuring Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees: Sushma
External affairs minister calls up Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, tells her India has sought to urge Myanmar bilaterally and multilaterally to halt persecution of Rohingya Muslims there
DHAKA: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has expressed solidarity with Bangladesh over the Rohingya crisis and said India was pressuring Myanmar to take back refugees who have fled the Buddhist-majority nation, a top aide of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister said Friday.
More than 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled into Bangladesh since the latest flare-up in violence on August 25, adding to around 300,000 already in Bangladesh, close to the border with Myanmar.
“She (Swaraj) called our Prime Minister last night and conveyed her country’s solidarity with Bangladesh over the Myanmar refugee issue,” Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina’s deputy press secretary Nazrul Islam said.
Islam said Swaraj told the Bangladeshi premier that the crisis now appears to be an international issue and India was trying to put “pressure bilaterally and multilaterally on Myanmar to stop persecution of ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims” and take back the refugees who have fled to Bangladesh.
According to the spokesperson, Hasina said Bangladesh was forced to offer refuge to Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds as they fled their home at Myanmar’s western Rakhine state to evade atrocities.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, despite repeated attempts, could not be contacted.
A “deeply concerned” India had last week asked Myanmar to handle the situation in Rakhine state with “maturity and restraint” while focusing on the welfare of the civilian population.
According to Islam, Hasina explained to Swaraj the helplessness and misery of the refugees, particularly of minor children and women, and said Bangladesh is trying to address their basic needs. “She (Hasina) told Swaraj that Bangladesh required external support to handle the refugee issue and return them to Myanmar,” the spokesman said.
Hasina said her government allocated land for makeshift shelters for the Rohingyas “but it will certainly create a big problem for Bangladesh if they stay for long”.
The premier’s spokesperson said Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla was present at Hasina’s Ganabhaban residence when Swaraj called.
Swaraj’s call came hours after the external affairs ministry issued a statement expressing India’s readiness to provide Bangladesh “any assistance” in tackling the refugee crisis. Shringla said India will provide 7,000 tonnes of relief materials to Bangladesh. Dhaka had earlier said Bangladesh required India’s assistance in its efforts to handle the situation and send the refugees back to Myanmar.
Rohingyas, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, beat a man suspected to be a child lifter, near Balukhali refugee camp, in Bangladesh on Friday |