Myanmar’s lack of cordiality preventing Rohingya repatriation: FM

Rohingya repatriation could not be started because of the lack of cordiality of the Myanmar government, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Monday.

“Not a single Rohingya could be repatriated in the last three and a half years as Myanmar brought up one issue after the other,” he told reporters in Rangamati after inaugurating Bangabandhu Adventure Festival marking the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s founding father.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women and children fled to Bangladesh from their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after the military launched a brutal offensive targeting the mainly Muslim ethnic minority.

State-sponsored discrimination against the Rohingyas stretches back decades. Myanmar does not recognise them as citizens despite having lived in the country for generations. The country denies them basic rights and many of them are forced to live in cramped camps.

Bangladesh and Myanmar held several rounds of talks for the discussions could not be advanced due to election and Covid-19 outbreak. Foreign Minister Momen said a repatriation talk with Myanmar is scheduled for Jan 19 at the mediation of China.

Covid-19 vaccination

Replying to a question, the minister said India had repeatedly assured that they would give Bangladesh Covid-19 vaccine whenever they would use them.

“This decision came from the highest level of the Indian government. We want to believe in India. We’ve had talks with them on many occasions and they have assured us (of providing the vaccine),” he said.

Minister Momen said Bangladesh had held talks with other countries and they, too, assured of providing vaccines.

Bangladesh has so far confirmed 523,302 cases with 7,803 fatalities. The country reported its first cases on March 8 last year and the first death on March 18.

The country inked an agreement with the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd last month for procuring 30 million doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca Vaccine – five million each month.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 vaccination in Bangladesh will start in the first week of February, the Director General of the Directorate General Health Services (DGHS) Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam said Monday.

Bangabandhu Adventure Festival

Foreign Minister Momen inaugurated the festival by releasing balloons and pigeons. He had earlier paid floral tributes to Bangabandhu’s sculpture.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board and Bangladesh Adventure Foundation jointly organised the festival.

Presided over by Development Board Chairman and Adventure Foundation President Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, the programme was attended by parliamentarian Dipankar Talukder, Rangamati Region Commander Brig Gen Md Iftekharul Islam, and Rangamati Deputy Commissioner AKM Mamunur Rashid, among other.

The adventure festival includes mountain scaling, river cruise, kayaking, hiking, trail run, team building, trekking, and tree trail.

The festival will run from Jan 11 to Jan 15. This time, 100 adventurers (half of them from the hill tracts) aged between 18 and 35 years are taking part in the festival.

Source: United News of Bangladesh