By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, Sep 14 (IANS) Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that failure to solve the Rohingya crisis may lead to radicalism and terrorism.
“Our fear is that, if this problem is not solved quickly, it may lead to pockets of radicalism, and since terrorists have no borders and faith, there’s high possibility of creation of uncertainty in the region which may frustrate our hope for a peaceful, secure and stable region,” Momen said while addressing the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held online on Saturday.
Dhaka fears that the crisis can frustrate the hope for regional peace and stability if it is not resolved at the earliest, the Minister said.
Momen further said that Bangladesh sheltered some 1.1 million Rohingya despite the threat to the country’s economy and ecology, on humanitarian grounds and it was keen to solve the crisis through constructive diplomacy with good neighbourly spirit.
So far, Bangladesh has signed three deals with Myanmar for the repatriation of the Rohingya, while the latter has also agreed to take the refugees back and create a conducive environment for their voluntary repatriation, safety and security.
“But unfortunately, till today, no one went back and instead of creating a conducive environment, fighting and shelling are going on in (Myanmar’s) Rakhine state,” the Minister noted.
Momen said the Rohingya were not returning to their homeland primarily because they do not trust their government regarding their safety and security.
Bangladesh had urged Myanmar to engage non-military civilian observers from other friendly countries and organisations like ASEAN, China, Russia and India, saying it may reduce trust deficit for a sustainable return.
“We solicit support from our ARF partners so that these hapless Rohingya can return to their home in safety, security and dignity, resettle there, and reintegrate in their society. Once they return to their homeland, they could be contributing members in the development of Myanmar.”
He said that the Asia-Pacific is the most dynamic region in the world in terms of economic growth and the main challenge foris to sustain the growth momentum.
But the coronavirus pandemic now has become a big challenge.
“May I draw your attention to the fact that once vaccine is developed, it must be available to all without discrimination.”
Momen also touched upon other challenges, including terrorism, climate change, irregular movement of people, drug trafficking, and transnational crimes, which can only be adequately and effectively addressed through mutual trust and cooperation underpinned by multilateral arrangements.
Bangladesh will always support the ARF initiatives regarding these issues, the Minister said, adding: “Let us work together to enhance the role of ARF in this trying time so that it can serve as the premier regional security forum in the Asia-Pacific region.”