Repatriation remains a priority, says the minister
The government has taken a very strong stance against the idea floated by the World Bank (WB) that apparently suggests the integration of Rohingyas into Bangladesh as Bangladesh’s priority remains repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland.
“We took a very strong stance. We didn’t like it and we opposed it strongly. We conveyed it,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told UNB.
The World Bank came up with a program as part of its Refugee Policy Review Framework globally for refugee host countries through the Economic Relations Division (ERD).
“Rohingyas are not refugees here. They’re taking shelter temporarily,” Momen said, adding that Bangladesh wants the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar.
Asked about the WB’s proposed program, he said the WB is saying effective steps to be taken to identify, prevent and mitigate social tensions and risk of violence among the displaced people and host communities, building good relations among themselves, and employ them in local works.
The foreign minister said WB is saying Rohingyas should have the right to work and free mobility; and birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates should be issued for the Rohingyas like Bangladesh citizens. “Naturally, we don’t accept those ideas. They [WB] are willing to give money for these if we do integrate them.”
As per the WB ideas shared with the ERD, the Rohingyas should have access to the local labour market, including business opportunities, the same way Bangladesh nationals have the same payment facilities.
About education for Rohingyas, there is a proposal to provide education in the Bangla language so that they can be absorbed in the local market. However, Bangladesh wants education for Rohingyas in the Myanmar language.
“Their [WB] program is fully related to the integration of these people with the host country. Naturally, we don’t want it,” Momen said.
Bangladesh’s observation has also been shared with the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. “We told them [UNHCR] that these are irreverent,” he said.
Bangladesh says it does not buy these ideas even they want to tag these with their operational activities in Bhashan Char. “No, we can’t meet these proposals, we don’t buy this. We want them to go back to Myanmar,” Momen said.
The World Bank is now in discussion with host countries, including Bangladesh, with its Refugee Policy Review Framework.
Bangladesh does not want anything that might lead to the possibility of Rohingyas’ presence in Bangladesh for a longer period with an opportunity to live with locals in a more integrated way having the freedom of mobility.
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhashan Char.