Return of ‘displaced persons’ can restore normalcy in Myanmar: Sushma Swaraj on Rohingya crisis

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25 to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing

By: PTI | Dhaka | Updated: October 23, 2017 7:58 am
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey) 

India is “deeply concerned” at the spate of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State where normalcy will be restored only with the return of “displaced persons”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said here amidst the raging Rohingya refugee crisis.

Nearly 600,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State where the army has launched a crackdown against militants. Myanmar doesn’t recognise Rohingya as an ethnic group and insists that they are Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in the country.

Bangladesh has sought India’s “sustained pressures” on Myanmar for its resolution. “India is deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State,” Swaraj said after talks with the Bangladeshi side as part of the fourth Joint Consultative Commission.

She, however, preferred not to use the word “Rohingya” and said “we have urged that the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population”. Swaraj is on a two-day visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali. “It is clear that normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state. “The only long term solution to the situation in Rakhine State is rapid socio-economic and infrastructure development that would have a positive impact on all the communities living in the State,” she said.

Ali said Dhaka was “happy to be reassured that India would continue to support the humanitarian cause related to Rohingyas in Bangladesh”. “We further urged India to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the including sustainable return of all Rohingyas to their motherland,” he said.

India has committed to provide financial and technical assistance for identified projects to be undertaken in Rakhine State in conjunction with the local authorities, Swaraj said.

India has supported implementation of the recommendations contained in the Kofi Annan-led Special Advisory Commission report.

India and Bangladesh today discussed the common challenge of terrorism and resolved to fight the scourge together even as New Delhi reaffirmed its status as a reliable development partner of Dhaka.

This is Swaraj’s second visit to Bangladesh and comes after the recent trip of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during which India operationalised a USD 4.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh to enable implementation of development projects in key areas, including power, railways, roads and shipping.

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