DHAKA – Bangladesh said on Tuesday it had sought help from the United States in pressuring the government of Myanmar into offering safeguards for the return of the thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled the country since August 2017.
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen sought assistance from the US during a meeting on Monday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, the government of Bangladesh said in a statement released on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Momen discussed the importance of the “repatriation of the Rohingyas and creation of credible international pressure on Myanmar in that respect,” the statement said.
According to the statement, Pompeo reiterated that the US “would stand beside Bangladesh (both politically and financially) in finding a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.”
“It is the responsibility of the Myanmar government and military to create a conducive environment so that the Rohingyas feel safe to return home,” he added.
Momen told Pompeo about Dhaka’s plans to transfer a group of Rohingyas to the uninhabited Bhashanchar island in the Bay of Bengal, which has been prepared to host 100,000 refugees from the overcrowded camps in the Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh.
More than 738,000 Rohingya refugees had arrived in the camps since the beginning of the crisis on Aug. 25, 2017, following a wave of violence and persecution against the minority group that has been described by the United Nations as attempted ethnic cleansing.
Most of the refugees of the majority-Muslim community live in harsh conditions in the Kutupalong camp – located close to the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar – which has become the biggest refugee camp in the world.
Although Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement on Nov. 23, 2017 to begin returning Rohingyas, until now the repatriation attempts have failed due to the lack of conditions necessary for a safe and voluntary return of the refugees.
Organizations working to protect civil rights of the Rohingyas informed last week that 20 civilians were killed and 50 were injured in an airstrike carried out by the armed forces in the state of Rakhine (western Myanmar).