Indian high commissioner to Dhaka, Harsh Vardhan Shringla handing over relief materials for Rohingya refugees to Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzel Hussain Chowdhury in Cox's Bazar on September 17.
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Bangladesh PM Wants India To Give More Aid For Rohingya Refugees

Parul Chandra Dhaka 21 December 2018

Even as India prepares to provide the fourth tranche of relief material for the Rohingya refugees now sheltering in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that her country wants more help from India.

The fresh supply of relief material is scheduled to be handed over on Monday to the local administration in Cox’s Bazar where the refugees have been staying in camps after fleeing persecution in the restive Rakhine state of Myanmar.

Significantly, this time around India is also seeking to do a balancing act in providing the relief material. Therefore, some of the relief material will be distributed among the local community as well which wasn’t the case earlier. This is being done as part of India’s outreach to the local community in Cox’s Bazar which is currently sheltering nearly 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims.

Asked about the flak that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been receiving for her stand on the Rohingya issue, the Bangladesh Prime Minister said that Suu Kyi is being criticised and vilified everywhere and “I feel bad.”

Conceding that the Myanmarese leader should have done better in dealing with the issue, Sheikh Hasina came out strongly in support of the embattled Suu Kyi. “But we must remember that she has fought against a military dictatorship alone for decades. Their democracy is nascent, so it’s probably difficult for her to do this alone. For one act of omission by her, the international community wants to take away her lifetime’s achievements.”

Recalling the assistance India provided to her countrymen during the 1971 War of Liberation, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh was grateful for it. She also said that Bangladesh was helping the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.

“We don’t want to quarrel with Myanmar….We have signed an agreement for their repatriation and they have given a commitment to take them back,” said the Bangladesh Prime Minister.

Noting that the Rohingya refugees don’t want to go back, she said Bangladesh has asked Myanmar to create conducive conditions for their return. “They cannot stay in the camps forever,” said Sheikh Hasina.

The relief material to be handed over on Monday will include 2.25 lakh blankets, 2 lakh seaters and 500 solar lamps.

India is keeping a close eye on the issue of the repatriation of Rohingyas. It believes that the longer they stay in the relief camps, the greater the likelihood of problems for it, Bangladesh and the region as a while. Their prolonged stay in Bangladesh also has security implications for India. The perception is that the longer they stay in Bangladesh, the more difficult it will be to ensure their return to the Rakhine state.

Both Bangladesh and India are also looking towards the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help with the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims who fled the Rakhine state. The pressure by the international community on Myanmar to take them back as well as to create the right conditions for their return are also expected to help the repatriation efforts.

However, last month Bangladesh was unable to repatriate the first batch of Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar as they simply refused to go back. Since the return is supposed to be voluntary, the repatriation effort was postponed.

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