Dhaka – Dhaka has sought New Delhi’s support for safe and respectful return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled a violent military crackdown in Myanmar, a common neighbour to both Bangladesh and India, an official said on Sunday.
Bangladeshi president Abdul Hamid, now on a trip to New Delhi, sought the assistance when he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sideline of an international conference on renewable energy.
Modi assured Bangladesh of his government’s support for a safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims, said Joynal Abedin, the Press Secretary to the Bangladeshi president.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims, a minority ethnic group on Buddhist majority Myanmar, fled the clampdown launched in August in response to attacks by suspected Muslim insurgents on a number of security posts in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
The United Nations and the United States termed the military operation as ‘ethnic cleansing’.
The influx of Rohingya created an emergency humanitarian crisis in south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar where the refugees are sheltered in squalid camps.
“The Indian government is discussing the issue with Myanmar government,” Abedin quoted Modi as saying during the talks at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, according to state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency.
Bangladesh and Myanmar in November signed an arrangement for the return of the Rohingya Muslims in two years.
The formal repatriation was supposed to begin on January 23, two months after the signing of the instrument. But the process stalled as both Myanmar and Bangladesh could not complete the initial process for repatriation of the displaced people.
The UN and other aid agencies say that the Myanmar did not create an atmosphere conducive for safe and dignified return of the refugees.