Bangladesh says will coordinate with UN over Rohingya return

A relocated Rohingya refugees family waits to get allotted a temporary shelter at Balukhali refugee camp, 50 kilometres from, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, in this Jan. 17, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Bangladesh says will coordinate with UN over Rohingya return

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Sunday sought to reassure the international community that a planned repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to conflict-scarred western Myanmar would be “voluntary” and in coordination with the United Nations.
In a briefing to foreign diplomats, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H Mahmood Ali insisted that the operation to return some 750,000 refugees who fled unrest and a military crackdown in Myanmar would involve the UN’s refugee agency.
“In order to ensure that the return is voluntary, Bangladesh has incorporated provisions for involvement of UNHCR and other relevant international organizations in the entire return process,” he said at the meeting in Dhaka.
Plans by Bangladesh and Myanmar to repatriate the refugees, who face desperate conditions in overcrowded camps near the countries’ shared border, are due to begin within days and last for two years.
But they have been met by angry protest among the Rohingya refugees, with many left traumatized by atrocities including murder, rape and arson attacks on their homes.
Rights groups and the UN have said any repatriations must be voluntary.
They have also expressed concerns about conditions in Myanmar, where many Rohingya settlements have been burned to the ground by soldiers and Buddhist mobs.
UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee is currently visiting the camps in southeastern Bangladesh where around a million of the Muslim minority are now living.
Ali said Bangladesh wanted to “ensure that the agreements facilitate safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return,” the minister said, according to a statement.
He said Myanmar would involve the Red Cross in the repatriation process, adding that it has agreed to allow India, China and Japan to help rebuild homes and villages in Rakhine.
Western diplomats attending the briefing emphasised safe conditions for the repatriation.
“The Rohingya that I have met in the camp do not want to go back to a situation that will be dangerous to them,” US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat told reporters after the briefing.
“They do not want to go back to uncertainty. And why would any of us want them to go back to uncertainty. Again the conditions have to be safe and acceptable,” she said.
The repatriation deal does not cover the estimated 200,000 Rohingya refugees who were living in Bangladesh prior to October 2016, driven out by previous rounds of communal violence and military operations.


Kanye West meets Uganda’s president, gifts pair of sneakers

Updated 15 October 2018
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Kanye West meets Uganda’s president, gifts pair of sneakers

  • Museveni said he and the American rapper held “fruitful discussions”
  • Uganda’s presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House and exchanging gifts

KAMPALA, Uganda: Kanye West has met with Uganda’s president during a visit to the East African nation and given the 74-year-old leader a pair of white sneakers.
President Yoweri Museveni said he and the American rapper held “fruitful discussions” on Monday about promoting tourism and arts.
West and his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, have been vacationing in a national park in Uganda. He is said to be recording music in a tent.
Uganda’s presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House and exchanging gifts.
While excited tourism officials see the visit as an endorsement of the country’s tourism potential, some Ugandans wryly pointed out that Museveni cracked down on hoodies earlier this year when he announced that motorcycle riders could no longer wear them in a bid to fight rising crime.
The president, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has been at the center of unrest in recent weeks as Uganda’s large youth population increasingly expresses frustration over unemployment and accuses Museveni of being out of touch.
Uganda’s government has been criticized over its treatment of a local pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker, Bobi Wine, who alleges torture by security forces. The government denies it.