Pope Francis arrives in Bangladesh; to meet Rohingya refugees

Pope Francis arrives at the airport in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on November 30, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2017
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Pope Francis arrives in Bangladesh; to meet Rohingya refugees

DHAKA: Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid received Pope Francis on Thursday following the latter’s visit to Myanmar.

“Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh gave rise to great expectations from the international community, especially among the forcibly displaced people from Myanmar who came to Bangladesh and identify themselves as Rohingya,” said Anup Kumar Chakma, a former Bangladeshi ambassador to Myanmar.

But the pope’s visit to Dhaka is clouded by the fact that during his visit to Myanmar, he did not refer to the ongoing Rohingya crisis, use the term “Rohingya” or condemn operations carried out against the community in Rakhine state that led to their mass exodus into Bangladesh.

“It reflects how effectively Myanmar has been dealing with this issue diplomatically,” said Chakma.

The pope’s visit to Bangladesh is significant in that it may give momentum to the implementation of a repatriation accord recently signed by Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“This visit will draw more international attention and maintain pressure on the Myanmar government to ensure the sustainable repatriation of refugees,” said Dr. Delwar Hossain, a professor of international relations at Dhaka University.

The pope is scheduled to meet a group of Rohingya on Friday in Dhaka. “It has indirect value and impact on world leaders,” said Hossain.

But former Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Shomsher Mobin Chowdhury told Arab News: “I don’t think Pope Francis will play any diplomatic role in devising a solution to the Rohingya crisis. We’ve signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding with Myanmar, and we should concentrate on moving forward with this diplomatic approach.”

The pope concluded his first of three days in Bangladesh at a dinner hosted by the president, where he met politicians, diplomats and civil society leaders.
 


UK warns there will be no Brexit deal unless EU softens on Irish border

Updated 1 min 57 sec ago
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UK warns there will be no Brexit deal unless EU softens on Irish border

  • Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, yet little is clear
  • Some rebels have vowed to vote against a possible Brexit deal

LONDON: Britain will leave the EU without a deal unless the bloc’s leaders soften their position on the Irish border, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC.
EU leaders abruptly cautioned May on Thursday that unless she gave ground on trade and the Irish border by November they are ready to cope with Britain crashing out.
“At the moment what the European Union is asking in and around Northern Ireland is simply impossible for any UK government to accept. And actually, if they stick with that position, there will be no deal,” Grayling said.
“There’s tough language and actually a deal is done at the last. And I’m still confident that we will reach agreement,” he added.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, yet little is clear: There is, so far, no divorce deal, rivals to May are circling and some rebels have vowed to vote against a possible Brexit deal.