Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Friday said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not send back 54,000 Rohingyas living in there for decades.
‘The Saudi government told us it’ll be helpful for them if we provide them with passports as Saudi Arabia doesn’t keep stateless people,’ he told reporters after attending a programme in the city.
The FM said they formed a three-member committee, headed by foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen, to look into the Saudi request.
‘It doesn’t mean the Saudi government will send them back to Bangladesh,’ Abdul Momen said.
There are many people to instigate because Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia maintains very good relations with 22 lakh workers in the KSA.
The foreign minister said, ‘Many years ago—around 39 to 40 years— the then Saudi authorities took Rohingyas seeing their sufferings. They do not have any passport and they speak Arabic.’
Bangladesh made it clear that it will give them passports only when there is proof that they used to live in Bangladesh and have relevant previous documents.
On Thursday, Momen said the Saudi government urged Bangladesh to take back 462 Rohingyas who are currently in Saudi jails for committing criminal activities.
Bangladesh Mission checked it and found only 70 to 80 people have Bangladeshi passports.
Momen said Bangladesh would bring back those 70 to 80 people having Bangladeshi passports by issuing travel documents. ‘We don’t know about others.’
Bangladesh is already overburdened with over 1.1 million Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar.
On Wednesday night, the government urged the expatriate Bangladeshi who will return to their workplaces in the KSA to maintain discipline while collecting tickets and applying for visa extension following due procedures.
The government also urged the expatriates not to create any chaos instigated by any third party.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs specially mentioned three locations—the Saudi Embassy in Dhaka, ticketing booths of the Saudi Airlines and Biman Bangladesh Airlines—where expatriate Bangladeshis must maintain discipline.
The Bangladeshi workers who got stuck here will be able to return to their workplaces in the KSA smoothly soon as both Biman and Saudi airlines got permission to operate apart from addressing visa and Iqama issues.
The Saudi government agreed to extend visas for the Bangladeshis, if already expired, who want to return to their workplaces in the KSA.
‘Only a few cases of visa expiry, not that all visas are expired,’ said the FM.
The visa extension process for those whose visas have expired will start on Sunday.
He also said the Iqamas of Bangladeshi workers will remain valid for 24 more days and there would be further extension, if required.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs