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Pressure on Myanmar a must for Rohingya repatriation

Norwegian envoy talks to media

February 20, 2018 00:00:00

Norway has laid emphasis on keeping up pressure on Myanmar authorities to create necessary conditions in Rakhine State to make the return of thousands of Rohingyas living in Bangladesh to their homeland 'sustainable', reports UNB.

"Yes, we've to continue to put pressure on Myanmar authorities, definitely," Norwegian Ambassador in Dhaka Sidsel Bleken told the news agency in an interview at her office at the Nordic Embassy in the city.

Bangladesh has already handed over a list of 1,673 families of 8,032 Rohingays to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of the displaced people living in Bangladesh to their homeland in Rakhine.

However, the repatriation of Rohingyas may take further time as the verification of the first-batch list of Rohingyas 'depends on Myanmar' as there is no specific timeframe to complete it.

Besides, the Rohingyas living in Bangladesh say they are unwilling to return now as none of their demands, including the citizenship right, has been met.

Responding to a question, the Norwegian Ambassador said there is an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation.

"We all agree that the problem lies in Myanmar and the solution [also] lies there," she said adding that unfortunately it does not seem to be very likely that conditions on the Myanmar side have improved substantially.

Ambassador Bleken said Rohingyas need to be able to return their homes 'voluntarily and safely' with the protection they should have before their return.

Until that happens, she said, a large number of Rohingyas will continue to stay in Bangladesh for quite some time. "What we need is to work together to make that [return] as sustainable as possible."

Asked about the role of the international community, the Norwegian Ambassador said response from the international community has been 'substantive' and support from Bangladesh is also laudable.

"Together, they've managed to improve the situation as Bangladesh witnessed such a large number of people coming in a very, very short time. So, it was very, very challenging," she said.

The Norwegian Ambassador, however, said considering the situation of such big scale it has never been enough.

Responding to another question, Ambassador Bleken said unfortunately this is a situation that will not be solved in near future. "So, we need to continue to support and need to continue to cooperate with."

She laid emphasis on working with the government of Bangladesh to keep supporting both Rohingyas and the host communities. "Because they (host community) are also very much affected."

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