'We are extremely grateful and we are also respectful of the services of the Bangladeshi peacekeepers around the world'
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday reaffirmed Bangladesh's firm commitment to remain engaged with the United Nations in its efforts towards preventing conflict and establishing peace in the world.
"Bangladesh always remains ready to contribute troops and police in response to UN’s call for strengthening world peace and stability," she told UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Jean Pierre Lacroix when he paid a courtesy call on her at her Jatiya Sangsad office in Dhaka.
After the meeting, the prime minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed the media.
Hasina said Bangladesh also remained prepared to support the UN peacekeeping capability readiness steps.
As per the UN’s request, she said, the government was also ready with "rapid deployment battalion" for MONUSCO in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The prime minister also underscored implementation of a nine-point reform agenda for the UN peacekeeping operations presented by the UN secretary general and assured the UN of Dhaka's support in this regard.
While talking about the Rohingya issue, she pointed out Bangladesh's foreign policy of “friendship to all, malice to none” and said the country wanted to maintain peace with all.
"Accordingly, the government opened dialogue with Myanmar to solve the Rohingya crisis," she said.
Hasina regretted that Myanmar authorities agreed to take back their nationals from Bangladesh, but they did not act as per their commitment.
"The presence of nearly 1.1 million Rohingya people is a huge burden on Bangladesh and it is causing sufferings to the local people where the refugees have been sheltered," she said.
She added that all, including the army, navy, air force, security forces, administration and volunteers, have been working to mitigate the sufferings of the Rohingyas.
High praise for Bangladeshi peacekeepers
During the meeting, Jean Pierre Lacroix highly praised the role of Bangladeshi peacekeepers, including the female troops and police, in maintaining peace at UN missions in different parts of the world.
He recalled the ultimate sacrifice of made by many Bangladeshi peacekeepers while they were on duties, and said that Bangladesh was a key member regarding UN’s peacekeeping efforts.
He also assured Hasina of continuing the UN support towards development efforts of the Bangladesh government.
Prior to his meeting with Hasina, Lacroix had met with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at state guesthouse Padma in Dhaka, and led a five-member UN delegation to a meeting with Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Patwary at the Police Headquarters.
At both meetings, the UN official had lauded Bangladesh's strong engagement in ensuring peace around the world with its peacekeepers.
"We had a very frank discussion. This was an opportunity for me to thank him personally and Bangladesh for its extremely strong support to peacekeeping and its steadfast engagement in favour of peace around the world," he told reporters after the meeting with the foreign minister.
"We are extremely grateful and we are also respectful of the services of the Bangladeshi peacekeepers around the world," he said.
UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo was, among others, present at the meeting.
During the meeting with the IGP, Lacroix had highly praised Bangladesh Police for its role in establishing world peace.
Hailing the professionalism and efficiency of the Bangladeshi police members, he said they had been making a unique contribution to protecting peace in conflict-stricken and war-torn countries across the globe, Police Headquarters spokesman AKM Kamrul Ahsan quoted him as saying.
The UN under-secretary-general, however, added that Bangladesh Police would have to acquire more skills in the face of challenges of the UN peacekeeping missions.
He also emphasised obtaining fluency in French language in particular.
The IGP urged Lacroix to increase the participation of Bangladesh Police and the number of women police, especially the Female Formed Police Unit, in the peacekeeping activities.
Lacroix arrived in Dhaka on Sunday morning on a visit to thank Bangladesh for its service and sacrifice in ensuring global peace.
He will also visit Nepal, India and Pakistan by July 3.
Together, troops and police from these four countries make up close to one-third of some 91,000 uniformed personnel across 14 UN peacekeeping operations.