Bangladesh min­is­ter to hold talks in Myanmar on Ro­hingya cri­sis

WARY OF MO­TIVES: Dhaka bans three char­i­ties from giv­ing aid to refugees

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s home min­is­ter said on Thurs­day he will travel to Myanmar on Oc­to­ber 23 for talks on the cri­sis that has seen more than half a mil­lion Ro­hingya refugees cross into his coun­try in just six weeks.

Asaduz­za­man Khan con­firmed the dates of his visit as the United Na­tions said at least 14,000 new refugees had en­tered Bangladesh from Myanmar in the past two days after a brief lull in ar­rivals.

“We’ll ask them to take ac­tion so that no more peo­ple from this com­mu­nity from Myanmar en­ter Bangladesh,” said Khan of the cri­sis, which has strained ties be­tween the two neigh­bours.

“We’ll also ask them to take back those who’ve al­ready come in.”

Khan said the talks would also cover bor­der se­cu­rity in­clud­ing along the Naf river, which acts as a fron­tier be­tween Bangladesh and Myanmar’s trou­bled Rakhine state.

Nearly a mil­lion Ro­hingya refugees are now crowded into packed refugee camps near the bor­der where most live in des­per­ate con­di­tions with limited ac­cess to food, clean wa­ter or proper san­i­ta­tion.

Bangladesh said ear­lier this month that a se­nior Myanmar min­is­ter had agreed dur­ing a visit to Dhaka to set up a work­ing group to dis­cuss tak­ing back the Ro­hingya.

But no de­tails were given, and ex­perts have ques­tioned the like­li­hood of the refugees be­ing able to re­turn to Myanmar any time soon.

The Ro­hingya have faced decades of per­se­cu­tion in Myanmar, which re­gards them as il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

In re­cent weeks large num­bers of Ro­hingya vil­lages have been burned to the ground in what the UN says is a sys­tem­atic at­tempt by the mil­i­tary to drive them out.

The UN says 536,000 have fled since Ro­hingya mil­i­tant at­tacks on po­lice posts on Au­gust 25 trig­gered mil­i­tary reprisals, join­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands al­ready there.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been se­verely crit­i­cised for her fail­ure to curb the mil­i­tary crack­down, said last month that her coun­try would take back “ver­i­fied” refugees.

This would be done ac­cord­ing to cri­te­ria agreed in 1993, when tens of thou­sands of Ro­hingya were repa­tri­ated, she said.

Mean­while, Bangladesh has banned three char­i­ties from work­ing with Ro­hingya refugees, amid con­cerns dis­placed in camps along its bor­der could be rad­i­calised.

Mah­jabeen Khaled, an MP from the rul­ing Awami League, said two in­ter­na­tional char­i­ties and one Bangladesh-based foun­da­tion, had been black­listed from the Ro­hingya refugee camps in south­ern­most Cox’s Bazar district.

Khaled, who sits on the par­lia­men­tary stand­ing com­mit­tee on for­eign af­fairs, said no spe­cific al­le­ga­tions had been lev­elled at the char­i­ties.

But au­thor­i­ties were “scru­ti­n­is­ing and screening” all aid agen­cies want­ing to con­trib­ute to the mas­sive re­lief ef­fort in Cox’s Bazar, where more than half a mil­lion refugees had fled to squalid camps since Au­gust.

“We want to mon­i­tor who is giv­ing aid, and why, for se­cu­rity rea­sons. Who are fund­ing them, and what they are go­ing to do with the money?” Khaled said.

“They (Ro­hingya) are vul­ner­a­ble. A lot can be done with this Ro­hingya peo­ple. We want to be care­ful,” she said, adding it would be “easy” to lure the refugees to mil­i­tancy.

— Reuters

Peo­ple watch as Hoa Binh hy­dro­elec­tric power plant opens the flood gates after a heavy rain­fall caused by a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion.

— Reuters

A Ro­hingya refugee woman looks out of her tent in the Ku­tu­pa­long Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

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