India has sent to Bangladesh its second relief consignment to help tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar following a military crackdown, triggering one of the world’s worst refugee crises. Over 600,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s violence-hit Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August when the military intensified crackdown against alleged militant outfits of Rohingya Muslims. Indian Navy Ship INS Airavat sailed from Vishakhapatnam and reached Chattogram port (formerly Chittagong) Port yesterday where Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla handed over the relief consignment to Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzel Hussain Chowdhury Maya.
Officials familiar with the development said the 373-tonne consignment contained 104 tonnes of milk powder, 102 tonnes of dried fish, 61 tonnes of baby food, 50,000 raincoats and 50,000 pairs of gum boots. “Another tranche containing 1 million litres of kerosene oil and 20,000 cooking stoves is expected to arrive soon,” Shringla said. He said India sent the relief in view of the specific needs of the “large number of (Rohingya) women and children living in the camps and the onset of monsoon”.
“We hope this will bring some succour to the people living in camps,” he said. Bangladesh has repeatedly sought India’s help to put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis. During a recent high-level visit of UN Security Council, Bangladesh called upon India as well as Russia, China and Japan to play a stronger role for Rohingya’s secured and dignified repatriation. Earlier, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina engaged the foreign ministry to pursue a vigorous diplomacy with countries having direct borders with Myanmar along with Russia and sought enhanced Indian engagement in resolving the crisis.
“We want India to mount pressure on Myanmar so they quickly take back their displaced people,” Hasina had told a visiting non-government Indian delegation. She had warned that Rohingyas’ longer stay in Bangladesh could create a security crisis, arguing that “when people remain frustrated and have no work, they could easily be indulged in militancy”.
“We understand that the influx of large number of refugees has created unprecedented challenges for the government and people of Bangladesh,” Shringla said. India’s foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, who was in Dhaka last month, said “India has been fully supportive of the efforts being made to resolve the crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people”.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will pay a two-day visit to Myanmar from May 10 during which key bilateral and regional issues, including the situation in the Rakhine state from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled following violence last year, are likely to be discussed. In December last year, India had announced a development assistance of USD 25 million for the Rakhine state. Earlier, India sent relief materials for 300,000 Rohingyas in September last year under ‘Operation Insaniyat’ to support Bangladesh in its humanitarian efforts.