Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has requested that Muslim nations keep up pressure on Myanmar for the safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees who fled a violent military crackdown.
“The Rohingya ethnicity also deserves the right to life, dignity and existence like all of us,” Hasina said inaugurating the 45th foreign ministers’ conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Dhaka on Saturday.
Bangladesh has sheltered about 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar on humanitarian grounds, she told the conference.
Nearly 700,000 of them crossed the border into Bangladesh to flee the August 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The United Nations dubbed the crackdown “ethnic cleansing.”
“When the Rohingya community of Myanmar is being subjected to ethnic cleansing, the OIC fraternity cannot overlook it,” Hasina said, requesting that the leaders of the 57-member grouping stand by the forcibly displaced people to safeguard their safety.
The OIC must maintain pressure on Myanmar to make it deliver on the ground as it agreed with Bangladesh to repatriate the refugees, she said.
Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a deal in November to begin the repatriation in January.
However, the process stalled apparently because of a lengthy verification of Rohingya identity, construction of new accommodation for the returnees and securing their safety in Rakhine state.