We won’t open up the border to all: Quader

Rohingya refugees were allowed entry in 2017 out of humanitarian concern and under different circumstances, the minister said

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 8 Feb 2024, 04:20 PM
Updated : 8 Feb 2024, 04:20 PM

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader says that Bangladesh will not open its borders as it did six and a half years ago to allow Rohingya refugees to enter unobstructed.

Bangladesh will take its concerns to the UN, he added.

The BNP had also allowed Rohingya to enter the country when they were in power, the Awami League general secretary said at a press conference at the party’s headquarters on Thursday.

The minister faced questions about the hundreds of Myanmar Border Guard Police personnel crossing the border amid fighting between junta forces and insurgents.

“The BNP first allowed the Rohingya to come here,” he said. “They were in power then. Were they wrong to give them that opportunity?”

Regarding the decision to open the border in 2017, he said, “The decision made by our leader was praised by the whole world, including the UN. Considering the situation at the time, our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the border for humanitarian reasons. That is why she was called ‘the mother of humanity’.”

But people can no longer enter unobstructed, Quader said.

“The position at the border has been strengthened. We are not in favour of liberally opening our borders and will not give that opportunity to anyone. Through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh will inform the United Nations of its concern in writing.”

Responding to the BNP’s claims that the government was not responding to the situation because it was ‘weak and unpopular’, Quader said, “They are speaking nonsense. They aren’t right in the head.”

“They believed their foreign friends would stand by them. Those hopes were completely dashed. There was no statement from across the Atlantic. And there are no statements coming from this side either, nor is there any cause for them.”

He highlighted the US, UK, France and other countries’ statements regarding their willingness to work with the current government.

“A lot more will happen, but they [the BNP] will just look on as tears fall from their eyes.”

Asked whether the Myanmar conflict was having any effect on India, Quader said, “There have been some instances of people from Myanmar crossing the border into India. Some border guards have crossed as well. India isn’t unworried.”

“India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke with our prime minister. Our foreign minister is in India. India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar has had important talks with Ajit Doval in the meantime. The Myanmar issue was highlighted during these talks.”