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

The New Indian Express - - INDIA -

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.

PTI

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 |

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