Dhaka – Bangladesh has sought international support to arrange temporary accommodation for the Rohingya Muslims who fled military atrocities in neighbouring Myanmar, officials said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the issue at a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sideline of Munich Security Conference. Hasina is on a three-day official visit in Germany to join the 53rd global security forum in Munich.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh after the Myanmar security forces launched a so-called counter insurgency sweep responding to an attack on police post in northern Rakhine state on October 9. The minority Rohingya Muslims were subject to abuses like rape, killing, torture, arson and looting allegedly by the security forces.
More than 70,000 Rohingya Muslims took shelter in Bangladeshi forest since the October clampdown, according to official statistics. Bangladesh has been hosting more than 300,000 Rohingyas, of whom 30,000 are registered as refuges by the UN, since 1990s as they were also driven away by the Burmese military.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the international community to provide humanitarian supports to the hapless people so that they live in a safe environment with good health.
Bangladesh has taken the issue of extruded Myanmar citizens from humanitarian point of view, Hasina said.
But their stay and activities in Cox’s Bazar, an important tourist town, is causing destruction of environment, sanitation system, landscape and nature, forcing them to live in an inhuman condition, she added.
“So Bangladesh government wants to shift them to an open and healthy area by providing all the civic facilities,” she said seeking support of Germany and other countries in this regard, according to state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency.
Bangladesh has already decided to relocate the Rohingya refugees in an off-shore island in the Bay of Bengal. The move was, however, castigated by rights groups citing that the 11-year old Thengar Char island was not worthy for human habitation as of now.
In their hour-long meeting, Hasina and Merkel discussed various issues relating to mutual interests including the ways of boosting relations between the two countries.
The areas of trade and business, development and refugee issues featured in the discussion prominently, Prime Minister’s press secretary Ehsanul Karim told reporters after the meeting.
The Prime Minister informed the German Chancellor about the socioeconomic progress of Bangladesh in different areas particularly in gender parity, women empowerment and poverty reduction, he said.
After the meeting Bangladesh and Germany signed a memorandum of understanding on upgrading current machine readable passport system of Bangladesh and a Joint Declaration of Intent (on political exchange on counter terrorism, the news agency added.