Committed to support mutually-acceptable solution to enable return of Rohingya refugees: India

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Dhaka, March 2: There is no difference between India and Bangladesh on addressing the issue of displaced Rohingya Muslims, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Monday, as he expressed New Delhi’s fullest support for any mutually-acceptable solution for their earliest possible return to Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Bangladesh is home to nearly a million Rohingya including 740,000 who fled a military crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017 that the UN has called ethnic cleansing.
Addressing a seminar in Dhaka on ‘Bangladesh & India: A Promising Future’, Shringla said India was deeply appreciative of the spirit of humanism that motivated Bangladesh to offer shelter to nearly one million displaced people.
He said there is also often “uninformed speculation” about India’s position on the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State of Myanmar, and its impact upon Bangladesh.
“And we fully recognise and sympathise with the enormous burden that you are facing,” Shringla said.
“As the only country that is an actual neighbour of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, we are committed to offering the fullest support for any mutually-acceptable solution that will enable earliest possible return of displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine state and to life of dignity,” he said.
“This should be done in a manner that is safe secure and sustainable,” Shringla said.
Shringla said India has provided five tranches of aid to the camps in Cox’s Bazar area through the government of Bangladesh and are prepared to do more.
Cox’s Bazar is the area where nearly a million Rohingya live in camps after many fled Myanmar.
“We are investing in the socio-economic development of the Rakhine area, including housing, so that there is an incentive not only for people to return, but for all communities to focus on cooperative solutions for economic development, rather than compete for limited resources,” he said.
Myanmarese President U Win Myint last week visited India during which the two sides signed 10 agreements with a focus on the socio-economic development of the southeast Asian nation’s conflict-torn Rakhine state.
Shringla said India was consistent in its interventions with the government of Myanmar at all levels, on the importance of closing IDP camps, facilitating socio-economic development projects, and in offering a conducive environment to encourage displaced persons to return to their homes in Myanmar from Bangladesh.
“In other words, there is no difference between India and Bangladesh on the way forward in addressing this major humanitarian problem.
India encourages “diverse stakeholders to lower the rhetoric and find practical and pragmatic solutions, bearing in mind that the priority is finding a fair and dignified humanitarian outcome,” Shringla said.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar has denied citizenship to Rohingya since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless.
It does not recognise Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic group and insists they are Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in the country. (PTI)