Bangladesh Foreign Minister Ali to brief diplomats on Rohingya crisis

The foreign minister will brief Dhaka-based diplomats on the ongoing crisis related to Rohingya refugees as Bangladesh has stepped up its diplomatic efforts before the upcoming UN General Assembly.

Published : 10 Sept 2017, 09:32 AM
Updated : 10 Sept 2017, 05:38 PM

AH Mahmood Ali will brief western countries’ diplomats at 4pm on Sunday and Arab countries separately at 5.30pm at state guesthouse Padma, according to his schedule.

The briefing follows an exodus of nearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine State since Aug 25 violence.

Bangladesh has been sheltering the stateless Rohingyas for decades.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya people as its citizens while many in the Buddhist-majority country consider them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

But the latest violence drew worldwide concern as it took place just the day when a commission led by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan submitted its report with recommendations to address the root cause of the problem such as giving them citizenship to ensure basic rights.

In a rare letter to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed concern that the violence could spiral into a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

He also said the issue could come up in the general debate of the upcoming UN General Assembly, regular sessions of which will begin on Sep 12 at the headquarters in New York. The general debate will begin on Sep 19.

AH Mahmood Ali. File photo

Bangladesh is also trying to convince the UN Security Council’s permanent members China and Russia who earlier wielded their veto powers to block a short statement from the Security Council on Myanmar in March this year.

The European Union, US, the UK, Canada and India expressed their deep concerns after the latest violence that created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

A senior official at the foreign ministry earlier told that they were working in line with the directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“She has clearly directed us to take steps to resolve the issue by keeping the bilateral relations with Myanmar ‘intact’,” said the official, who refused to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“The prime minister told us that Myanmar is our neighbour. And we cannot change our neighbour.”

Bangladesh is also stressing the full implementation of the Kofi Annan commission report that also advised Myanmar authorities to take back Rohingyas from Bangladesh after “joint verification”.

Bangladesh also proposed that 'safe zones' be created inside Myanmar for the Rohingyas, but did not get any reply yet.