By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Bangladesh and Indian state heads agreed to expedite “safe, speedy and sustainable” Rohingya repatriation to their country of origin in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, said a joint statement released on Saturday.
“They [Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi] agreed on the need for 'greater efforts' to be made to facilitate their [Rohingya] return”, citing a 53-point joint statement of both premiers, United News of Bangladesh reported.
Hasina is now in India on a four-day maiden tour after assuming power for the third-consecutive term while Modi hosts Hasina at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi for the first time after being elected for the second consecutive term.
The joint statement includes improvement of security situation and socio-economic conditions in Rakhine to restore confidence among the persecuted Rohingya Muslims for the repatriation process.
Earlier, several attempts of Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar from Bangladesh have failed as representatives of the persecuted community clearly said that without citizenship rights, safety guarantee and resettlement at original places in Rakhine, they will not return to Myanmar.
For sustainable repatriation of Rohingya, India has completed the first project of constructing 250 houses in Rakhine and is now preparing to implement another set of socio-economic development projects in the area, the statement said.
- Persecuted people
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.