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.
 


Afghanistan announces Muslim Eid holiday cease-fire with Taliban

Updated 19 August 2018
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Afghanistan announces Muslim Eid holiday cease-fire with Taliban

  • “We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” President Ashraf Ghani said
  • Ghani’s cease-fire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other militant groups such as Daesh

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday announced a cease-fire with Taliban insurgents from Monday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday, despite the heavy fighting seen over recent days in the central city of Ghazni.
“The conditional cease-fire will start tomorrow and it will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it,” he said in an Afghan Independence Day ceremony in Kabul.
“We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” he said.
A senior official in Ghani’s office said the “conditional” cease-fire would run for three months.
It was not immediately clear whether the Taliban had accepted Ghani’s call for a truce during Eid, the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, which officially begins on Tuesday.
This month the Taliban fought an intense battle with Afghan forces to control the strategically important city of Ghazni.
At least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day siege, which eased last week when Afghan soldiers backed by US forces pushed back the heavily armed rebels.
The Taliban said in a statement that they had control over half of Afghanistan.
Blasts, suicide attacks and clashes between hard-line Islamic militants and Afghan forces killed over 1,600 civilians in the first six months of the year, the highest number in the past decade, the United Nations said in a statement on Sunday.
Ghani’s cease-fire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other militant groups such as Daesh.