DHAKA: Bangladesh on Thursday welcomed a consensus on a UN resolution related to the repatriation to Myanmar of the 1.2 million Rohingya refugees it has sheltered for the past six years.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 have sought shelter in neighboring Bangladesh.
They joined others who escaped persecution earlier and settled in squalid camps in Cox’s Bazar district, a coastal region in the country’s southeast that hosts the world’s largest refugee settlement.
The third committee of the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar by consensus on Wednesday.
Tabled by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the EU, the resolution was co-sponsored by 114 countries, marking the biggest international support since the beginning of the Rohingya crisis.
“We welcome it. A solution to the Rohingya crisis is very important to us and we support the efforts. This time, 114 countries have co-sponsored the resolution initiated by the OIC. It’s a big thing,” Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr. Abdul Momen told Arab News.
The resolution urges Myanmar to create a conducive environment to facilitate the voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to their homeland, and calls for swift implementation of the 2021 peace plan developed by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to expedite the repatriation process.
The return of the Rohingya to Myanmar has been on the agenda for years, but a UN-backed repatriation process had yet to take off until now, despite pressure from Bangladesh amid dwindling financial support to host the large community.
Since March, repatriation has been negotiated between Bangladesh and Myanmar under a pilot scheme mediated by China, but Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner in Cox’s Bazar, said that despite several visits and the compilation of data from an initial group of Rohingya willing to return, it remains unclear when the process will begin.
“Despite bilateral efforts being underway over the Rohingya repatriation, at the moment, I can’t say when it will begin. It totally depends on the overall situation in Myanmar,” he told Arab News.
“We want the Rohingya to be repatriated in a safe, dignified and voluntary way.”