Bangladesh is overwhelmed by the huge Rohingya population living on its territory and cannot be expected to continue hosting the persecuted minority indefinitely, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh after an army crackdown in 2017 that UN investigators have said was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson.
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“It is not possible for Bangladesh to host such a large number of Rohingya for a long time,” Moon was quoted as saying by the official Sangbad Sangstha news agency during a visit to a Rohingya makeshift camp in the southern Cox’s Bazar district on Wednesday.
Moon also criticised Myanmar for its reluctance allow members of the persecuted community back into their home country.
Since August 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency.
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience”.
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalised, it added.
The Myanmar government has denied the allegations of persecution against the Rohingya and says its military campaign across northern Rakhine State was a response to attacks by Rohingya rebels.
Pointing to a permanent solution of the crisis, Moon said that safe and dignified repatriation of the displaced people is a must for the harmonious solution of the Rohingya crisis.
“Myanmar government should do much more so that Rohingya can return to their homeland without fear of persecution,” Moon said.
This is not the first time that the question of Bangladesh’s ability to take in more refugees has surfaced.
In March, Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told UN Security Council that his country “would no longer be in a position to accommodate more people from Myanmar”.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal in November 2017 with a two-year timeframe to return the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
The repatriation was postponed due to global concerns about the safety of Rohingya in their home country.