Bangladesh prime minister tells Bachelet that Rohingya refugees must return to Burma

Current situation across the border “not suitable for returns,” says Bachelet

Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaykh Hasina has conveyed to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet during her visit to Dhaka that refugees from the Rohingya ethnic minority must return to their homes in Burma.

Faced with this proposal, Bachelet has pointed out that “the current situation on the other side of the border” is “not the right one for returns.” “Repatriation should always be carried out in a voluntary and dignified manner, only when there are safe and sustainable conditions in Burma,” she added.

“I am very concerned about the rise of anti-Rohingya rhetoric in Bangladesh, stereotyping and scapegoating as a source of crime and other problems. I am particularly concerned that a pre-election context, combined with economic difficulties and uncertainties, means more hate speech against these vulnerable communities,” Bachelet said Wednesday.

Thus, she has urged the Government of Bangladesh and all actors to “be vigilant against such harmful rhetoric, to actively counter misinformation with facts and to foster understanding with host communities.”

Bachelet has also called on Bangladeshi authorities to create education and employment opportunities in the Cox Bazar Rohingya camp in Bangladesh, a place she visited this week, where she met with religious leaders as well as women’s and youth groups.

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During her visit to Cox Bazar, a group of refugees urged Bachelet to get involved in providing favorable conditions in Burma to allow for their repatriation. Khin Maung, a Rohingya youth leader, criticized the lack of action on the part of the institution, in statements to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.

“The UN is doing its best to support them. We will continue to do that,” Bachelet said, adding that they have to deal “with the deep roots of the problem.” “We have to deal with that and make sure that they can return to Burma when the conditions for safety and voluntary return exist,” she assured.

Bachelet also explained to Hasina on Wednesday that if the Rohingya minority is not guaranteed access to safe housing in Burma, their return could lead to human rights violations, The Daily Star reported.

During the meeting with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the two discussed other current global issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the international sanctions against Russia in the framework of the Russian invasion against Ukraine, which has created a global crisis.

“Bangladesh is having to weather these storms which have combined here with particular intensity and hit the most marginalized and excluded the hardest. These include, in particular, women, informal workers, street vendors, minorities, people with disabilities, children and migrants,” Bachelet said.

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In this regard, she focused on the “increasingly profound” impact of climate change and environmental degradation, which today constitutes “the greatest risk to human rights,” according to a statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Up to two-thirds of Bangladeshis are involved in agricultural activities in some way, and women account for half of those working in the agricultural sector,” he has said, adding that three-quarters of the population resides in vulnerable rural areas.

“The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh may have almost 20 million internal climate migrants by 2050, which corresponds to about 12 percent of the total population of Bangladesh or the total population of my own home country, Chile,” he has warned.

Finally, Bachelet has recalled, during her trip to Dhaka, that “Rohingya asylum in Bangladesh not only has a negative economic impact, but also an environmental one”, as reported by ‘The Business Post’.

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