Arrangement to shift Rohingyas to Hatiya temporary: Shahriar

United News of Bangladesh | Published: 17:42, Feb 01,2017

Shahriar Alam

State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam.--New Age photo

Bangladesh's decision to gradually relocate the documented and undocumented Rohingyas to Noakhali's Hatiya Island will be a 'temporary arrangement', considering the 'humanitarian ground'.

‘This is a very temporary arrangement that we need to make. We want Myanmar to take back their nationals at the earliest possible time’ said state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam on Wednesday.

He said the local government will implement the plan and Bangladesh will welcome if any foreign friends come forward to help after necessary discussions.

Shahriar Alam said though the registered refugee camps at Kutupalang in Ukhia upazila of Cox's Bazar district has the capacity for 30,000, over 3 lakh people are living there casting a negative impact on the overall environment and society.

‘Considering the situations on the ground, the government took the decision (shifting camps to Hatiya) in principle’ said the state minister adding that the land will be made livable through necessary scrutiny.

Responding to a question, Alam said the plan of shifting camps will not be implemented overnight. ‘It's now at the very early stage. It takes long time to establish housing facilities in a new place.’

He said the government is also discussing some ideas to provide supports to Rohingyas and manage their livelihoods through livestock farming, mild production and agriculture at the planned new camps after making the place livable with required physical structures.

Responding to another question, Shahriar Alam said no nation in the world stood against Bangladesh's position on Rohingya issue. ‘Everybody says there is only one solution - Myanmar will have to take back Rohingya people accepting them as its nationals.’
He said this is a success of Bangladesh's foreign diplomacy and the government is seeing its reflection everywhere on the cause.

A delegation of the advisory commission on Rakhine State on Tuesday said providing citizenship to and ensuring the dignity of Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine State is the key to have a better situation there. ‘This is very much in line with our position,’ said the statement.

Over 67,000 Myanmar nationals from its Rakhine State entered Bangladesh since October 9 last year. They are currently living in different camps -- Nayapara, Leda and Kutupalang in Teknaf and Ukhia -- apart from other parts of the country.

Earlier, a number of committees have already been formed to look into the process to shift Rohingya refuges to Thengar Char near Hatiya Island in Noakhali district in a very comprehensive manner.

Hatiya is an island in the northern Bay of Bengal, at the mouth of the Meghna Rive, and is nearly a nine-hour journey from the camps where the Rohingya are now staying.

Considering the situation, the cabinet division at a meeting with its secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam in the chair on January 5 decided to form the 'Committee for identifying illegal intruders from Myanmar'.

The Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong is heading one of the committees. The police commissioner, Chittagong Metropolitan Police, regional commander, BGB, zonal commander, Bangladesh Coast Guard, divisional office head of the DGFI, deputy commissioners from Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali and Bandarban are included in the committee.

There are also separate committees headed by the deputy commissioners of Cox's Bazar, Chittagong and Bandarban Hill District. There will be upazila, municipality, ward and union-level committees under these three districts.

The committees, if necessary, can coopt any official, public representative, educational institution head and local prominent person as the committee member.

The core committee will provide required recommendation and supports related to identification of illegal Myanmar nationals to the district-level committees.
The district committees will help transfer all the documented and undocumented Myanmar nationals to Thengar Char near the Hatiya Island in Noakhali gradually.

The committees will also take proper steps to prevent the further entry of Myanmar nationals into Bangladesh illegally, identify the citizenship of the nationals through collecting information from locals and detectives and take preventive measures so that the Myanmar nationals cannot mix up with the mainland people in Bangladesh.

The other districts will also have similar committees keeping consistence with the Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Bandarban district committees, according to the decisions noted in the document.

The government expects to complete a database within next three months.
Bangladesh is regularly expressing deep concern at the continued influx of Muslims from Rakhine into Bangladesh apart from tightening border deployment.

On December 29, the ministry of foreign affairs summoned Myanmar ambassador to Bangladesh Myo Myint Than demanded early repatriation of entire Myanmar population staying in Bangladesh and expressed Dhaka's readiness to engage with Myanmar to discuss the process and modalities of repatriation with Myanmar.

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