“The problem lies with Myanmar as they don’t want to take back the Rohingyas by any means,” Hasina told a press briefing in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Monday.
She went on to say that international aid groups working in the refugee camps in the border district of Cox’s Bazar also shared the blame for the delay in the repatriation process.
“The problem that I now see is that different international agencies that are providing voluntary services or working at Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar never want any refugee to go back.”
“Those who provide assistance to Rohingyas have a serious objection, though the government has constructed very beautiful houses and structures at Bhashan Char,” the premier said of the shelters Bangladesh has built on a flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal.
“The principal problem lies here.”
Human rights experts on Rohingya refugees have warned Bangladesh against rushing to relocate them from Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char, saying relocating refugees to unsafe island within the country would risk lives and livelihoods.
Elsewhere in her remarks, Hasina said she had been mobilizing support for dignified return of the persecuted Rohingya Muslims. Hasina said she had spoken to the leaders of India, China and Japan, who agreed that the Rohingya were Myanmar nationals and should be repatriated. The latest remarks by Hasina follow the leak of a report by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations emergency response team, which gave a glowing assessment of Myanmar’s efforts to entice Rohingya refugees back.
The report left observers incredulous for glossing over army atrocities, ignoring the ongoing civil war in Rakhine state and blaming the delays in repatriation on bungled paperwork by Bangladeshi authorities
Bangladesh has said it will not force Rohingya to return to Myanmar, where the Muslim minority faced several waves of persecution before the 2017 crackdown which saw widespread murder, rape and arson.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017, when many of the surviving members of the community started fleeing to Bangladesh en masse.
At least 740,000 members of the mostly stateless group fled across Myanmar’s western border into Bangladesh after the military crackdown.
The two governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal in November 2017, yet so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to return. Last month, the United Nations’ fact-finding mission on Myanmar called on all countries to cut financial and other ties with the country’s military over genocide targeting minority Rohingya Muslims.
The United Nations has blamed Suu Kyi for failing to prevent the brutal violence and atrocities, which the international organization says constitute genocide. The meeting comes as Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was once hailed as a champion in the fight for democracy, has been stripped of a series of international honors over the Rohingya exodus.