DHAKA: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has said that the Rohingya remain a top priority for the body, saw its chief official visit the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on Monday as part of a five-day trip to the country.
OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday and met with the country’s top officials, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Rohingya situation was discussed in Taha’s meetings with Bangladeshi officials, as the South Asian nation is hosting more than 1 million refugees from the persecuted minority, most of whom fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017 to escape a deadly military crackdown.
“(The) Rohingya is one of the top priority issues for (the) OIC … These Rohingya people are suffering. They deserve peace, security and a better life,” Taha told reporters after meeting Bangladesh’s Foreign Affairs Minister A.K. Abdul Momen on Sunday.
The OIC chief also called on the organization’s member states to support Gambia’s case at the International Court of Justice, which alleges that Myanmar has violated the Genocide Convention with its actions against the Rohingya in Rakhine State.
During his meeting with Hasina, Taha thanked the Bangladeshi government and people “for their relentless efforts to provide shelters, protection, hospitality, and necessary assistance to Rohingya refugees,” the OIC said in a statement.
Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, and has spent an estimated $1.2 billion a year to support the refugees.
“For a long time, we have had them (the OIC) beside us on the Rohingya issue. They have taken a leading role in removing the plight of the Rohingya,” Momen told reporters.
Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mizanur Rahman said Taha spoke with members of the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar during his visit on Monday.
“(The) OIC secretary-general exchanged views with the Rohingya and listened to their plight,” he said. “Taha promised to do the best on (the) OIC’s part to resolve the Rohingya crisis.”
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are facing compounding issues, including a further decrease of their rations from the World Food Programme, which said a lack of funding has forced it to cut food aid per person from $10 to $8 a month starting June 1.