Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon (File Photo/PTI)
The Rohingya issue would eventually become an unbearable crisis for Bangladesh, former UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday as he criticised Myanmar for being reluctant in taking back tens of thousands of persecuted Rohingya Muslims. According to the UN estimates, nearly 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in the Rakhine state since August 2017 when the Myanmar army launched a military crackdown.
Buddhist-dominated Myanmar does not recognise Rohingya as an ethnic group and insists that they are Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in the country. "It is not possible for Bangladesh to host such a large number of Rohingyas for long," Ban told newsmen while visiting Rohingyas’ makeshift camp along with Marshal Islands President Hilda Heine and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva at southeastern Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.
The former South Korean diplomat, who subsequently served as the eighth Secretary-General of the UN for two consecutive terms from January 2007 to December 2016, said Rohingyas appeared as a huge “burden” for a country like Bangladesh.
The former UN chief said that Myanmar’s role in repatriating Rohingyas was much less than what was expected. “Myanmar government should do much more so that Rohingyas can return to their homeland without fear and persecution,” he said.
Ban, however, lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangladeshis for extending refuge to more than 1.1 million Rohingyas on humanitarian ground despite constrains of internal resources.
Ban sought a harmonious solution to the Rohingya crisis through their dignified and fearless return to Myanmar and thanked the UN organisations for extending humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas. Ban arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday to attend a meeting on climate change adaptation along with Heine and Georgieva.
The World Bank CEO lauded Hasina and Bangladeshi people for their generosity to the vulnerable Rohingyas. “Bangladesh opened its border while its people open their heart to Rohingyas,” Georgieva said.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister M Shahab Uddin accompanied the foreign dignitaries. Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and most of them arrived there since August 25, 2017 after a military crackdown by Myanmar, termed as “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the UN.