Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) that the UN needs to be more active about resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis.
"The UN has failed to put enough pressure on Myanmar to take back the refugees. Dhaka wants UN agencies to accept the Rohingya island relocation plan or leave the South Asian country", Foreign Minister Momen said.
Dhaka has identified Bhasan Char Island in the Bay of Bengal for the relocation of about 100,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
These refugees have been in Bangladesh since fleeing from military repression in neighbouring Myanmar in August 2018.
“I think it is time to relocate them to Bhasan Char. But the island cannot accommodate all of them; we can send only 100,000 refugees there….the island offers economic activities to the refugees. But aid agencies working in the Cox's Bazar refugee camp don't want to move to Bhasan Char”, said Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Momen.
Some netizens criticised the Bangladeshi top diplomat. They described the plight of the Rohingyas as a humanitarian crisis that needs to be dealt with sensitively.
— Matthew Smith (@matthewfsmith) September 4, 2019
— বানীব্রত দাশগুপ্ত (@Bunibroto) September 5, 2019
— Sandra Petersmann (@PetersmannS) September 5, 2019
— Naomi Steer (@NaomiCSteer) September 5, 2019
One netizen said that the Rohingyas deserved eviction.
— Tin Kyaw (@thisIsTMK) September 4, 2019
The minister said that Bangladesh is not a rich nation and that it is time for others to come forward to facilitate the return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar or to relocate them elsewhere.
“It's an international issue and had we (Bangladesh) [have] not given them protection, they could have faced genocide. We are willing to send them anywhere, to anyone who wants to take them. We cannot afford to keep them for years”, he added.
He also revealed that Bangladesh is identifying international non-government organisations that are politicising the Rohingya issue.
“We have seized many leaflets, CDs and videos that urge Rohingya not to go back to Myanmar if certain demands are not met. Myanmar authorities have agreed to one of these demands: provide safety, security and mobility to the Rohingya people”, he told the German public broadcaster.
He said: “The UN has to agree to the plan or it can take the refugees with them. Already some of these people are getting involved in criminal activities… We cannot allow that. That is why we could force their relocation”.
He blamed the UN for not working to create a conducive environment in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
“The UN is not doing the job that we expect them to do”, he said, adding that Dhaka may even consider expelling UN agencies from the country if they fail to back the relocation plan.
Foreign Minister Momen said Bhasan Char Island is safe for human inhabitation.
“We have built embankments and beautiful houses there. If we tell Bangladeshi people to go there, they would definitely go there”, he said.
In 2017, following the deaths of 12 Myanmar security personnel reportedly at the hands of Rohingya rebels, the Rohingya community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was subjected to a brutal crackdown, including murder, torture, rape, and arson by the military and local mobs.
The military move consequently resulted in over 700,000 Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh to live in ill-kept refugee camps.
Over the last ten months, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar have held several rounds of negotiations to resolve the Rohingya refugee issue, but without much success.