By Anisur Rahman
Dhaka, Apr 28 (PTI) Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has underlined that the Southeast Asian countries and the developed nations should contribute more to sheltering the Rohingyas, saying Dhaka has done enough for the refugees from Myanmar despite having resource constraints.
Momen's statement came as the UK's State Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Lord Ahmad called him on Monday and urged him to allow the entry of boats with some 500 Rohingyas stranded in the country's southwestern coast in the Bay of Bengal.
"Five hundred is not a big figure when Bangladesh has sheltered over 1.1 million Rohingyas on humanitarian ground despite our resource constraints as a developing country," an official, who was familiar with the talks between the two ministers, said.
Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims fled a crackdown by the Myanmarese military in 2017 in Rakhine state and are living in camps in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.
Myanmar has faced international pressure to allow Rohingyas to return to Rakhine and grant them citizenship rights.
Momen told Ahmad the boats were not on the Bangladesh coastlines and wondered why Bangladesh alone was being asked to provide them the refuge, ignoring the other countries in the region.
He said other countries in South East Asia and developed nations should simultaneously shoulder responsibilities of providing refuge to the displaced people.
Momen suggested the UK as well could send a Royal ship to rescue the stranded Rohingyas in the mid sea and shelter them.
"The foreign minister feared that the situation could prompt the remaining Rohingyas in Myanmar's Rakhine state to try to enter Bangladesh as military crackdowns were still underway to kill them and oust the ethnic minority people from their homeland," the official said quoting the Bangladeshi minister.
He expressed concerns as different countries, including the European Union, kept on investing in Myanmar and the human rights bodies were not vocal over the issues.
Several international rights groups and aid agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, earlier appeared critical on the role of Dhaka and other countries in the region in rescuing the floating people who were at sea for weeks without adequate food and water.
Last week, the Bangladesh Coast Guard rescued 396 starving Rohingyas who were drifting at sea for weeks following their failed attempt to reach Malaysia while nearly 50 of them died due to ailments and malnutrition during the period.
"Why should Bangladesh take the responsibility every time? Bangladesh has already taken more than a million of Rohingya. We are running out of our generosity now," Momen had said then. PTI AR RUP RUP