‘Refugee repatriation needs more global focus’

  • ASEAN+
  • Monday, 09 Sep 2019

Staying right here: A file photo of Rohingya children and refugees raising their hands and shouting that they won’t go back to Myanmar during a demonstration at Kutupalong near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. — AFP

TOKYO: The international community needs to focus more on repatriation of Rohingya to their place of origin in Rakhine State instead of focusing only on their food, shelter and healthcare issues, says a Japanese South Asian affairs expert.

“We have to work on how to bring them back to their original country,” Ryohei Kasai, a visiting researcher at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Gifu Women’s University, told Bangladesh news agency UNB.

The diplomat-turned-researcher said, any refugee crisis has many dimensions but distributing food, providing shelter and healthcare services is one of the approaches to deal with the refugee issue.

“(But) that shouldn’t be only approach,” he said.

Kasai said they know Tokyo has spoken the Myanmar government, including Aung San Suu Kyi and military officials, to solve the matter.Japanese Foreign Minister Tara Kono also spoke to his Myanmar counterpart to convince Naypyidaw to take back the refugees, he said.

“We have been asking (Myanmar) to do that. Of course, more should be done,” Kasai said, adding that the international community should help Bangladesh to ease its burden due to the Rohingya crisis.

Japan has already shared some “preliminary ideas” with Bangladesh that can help expedite the Rohingya repatriation process as the country, being a common friend of Bangladesh and Myanmar, does not want to see of the Rohingya crisis prolonged.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kono floated the ideas during a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen held in Dhaka recently.

Kono mentioned that they do not want to prolong the situation but hoped that the repatriation process would be expedited.

The Japanese minister, who visited Bangladesh thrice and Rohingya camps twice, had also visited Myanmar to discuss the issue with its leaders.

Asked on any tripartite meeting among Bangladesh, Japan and Myanmar to find a solution, a diplomat here told UNB that there was no concrete plan or particular date fixed to have such a meeting.

A Japanese government source said they are with Bangladesh to assist and realise repatriation of the forcibly displaced people as early as possible.

“We will continue to support Bangladesh to realise early repatriation of Rohingya,” the source said.

Japanese expert Kasai praised Bangladesh for hosting such a big number of people from Myanmar which is a big burden for Bangladesh.

“I am very concerned about the refugee issue,” he said. — The Daily Star/ANN
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