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Muhith doubts Rohingya repatriation, plans budget allocation for them

FE Report | March 07, 2018 00:00:00

Finance Minister AMA Muhith says Rohingya refugees are turning a liability for Bangladesh as he doubts their repatriation to Myanmar.

And that is why the finance minister now plans for making budget allocation for them in the country's next national budget.

"Firstly, they (Myanmar) will take back only a few. Besides, Rohingya people won't be interested to go there to be re-expelled. So, they become our liability," Mr Muhith told newsmen after a meeting with some British MPs of DFID Programme at his secretariat office.

He said some 300,000 Rohingyas who came in 1990 and some from the latest influx will be relocated to Bhasanchar Island in Hatiya under Noakhali district.

"The rest (of them) will be rehabilitated wherever empty places are available. We will try to absorb as many as we can," said the minister about the alternative in case the repatriation 'arrangements' made with the Myanmar government shouldn't see a complete success.

Mr Muhith said rehabilitation of Rohingya people involves a large amount of money for which international assistance is needed. "We can make houses for them in Bhasanchar. But we do not have enough money to give them food. We have dearth of money."

The minister said nearly 1.0 million Rohingya minority people of Rakhine state of Myanmar are now living in Bangladesh.

Replying to a query whether the Rohingya could turn into a permanent liability for Bangladesh if they were rehabilitated here, he said the only one solution is at some point of time 'Mog' people have to be eliminated from Rakhine.

"The Rakhine state is not of the Mog people. They conquered it during the 1850s. Before that the area belonged to Rakhine people," he said. Someday the Rakhine people will do so, he mentioned.

Asked whether Bangladesh is failing in diplomacy to send back the Rohingya, the minister answered in the negative. "No, we have no weakness in diplomacy, everyone is supporting us. But, Burmese are not trustworthy."

He said Myanmar is showing reluctance to take back the Rohingya people. "They want to take back only 10 to 15 people whereas one million Rohingya people are there. They are evil, a rogue government."

In a crescendo of criticism of the Myanmar authorities reported action of ethnic cleansing, an outspoken Muhith said: "These Mog people should leave Rakhine, Suu Kyi should leave Rakhine -- this is my personal view."

He said the DFID delegation assured of standing beside Bangladesh. "Of course (they are with us). They wanted to go to Burma -- they have been denied."

Replying to a query he said: "We are now cultivating international interest. We are not pushing back."

To another query he said China is not supporting Bangladesh on Rohingya issue. "India has made a statement and they have supported us. USA, and almost every country, has supported us minus China and Russia."

Asked whether the DFID delegation expressed interest to provide financial assistance to feed Rohingya people, Mr Muhtih said they had already made it.

The minister said some additional allocations have to be made in the next fiscal budget to feed Rohingya people.

The UNHCR gave some good amount of money for them, but it is noticed that recently international announcement of assistance in this regard has decreased.

Presently, the global assistance for Rohingya people is coming into the prime minister's relief fund, he said.


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