Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, while insisting on expediting mutual cooperation between the southeast Asian nations, raised concern that criminal tendencies among “frustrated” Rohingya refugees may give rise to extremism and unrest in the region.
He was speaking at the NADI 3 Asian Confluence River Conclave 2022 that began in Guwahati on Saturday. The event was attended by ministers, diplomats and policymakers from different SEA nations.
“Bangladesh is providing them with food and shelter on humanitarian grounds. From that temporary shelter for the last five years, they want to go back to their motherland. Since repatriation has not started yet, they are getting frustrated and many of them are getting
involved in criminal activities like drug trafficking, human
trafficking, violence and crime,” he said.
Momen said Bangladesh fears that such a situation may trigger extremism, radicalism and lead to uncertainty in the whole region.
“Repatriation of the Rohingyas must be done quickly. I solicit your help and support,” he urged the participants.
Currently, Bangladesh is hosting more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in the Cox’s Bazar. He lauded PM Sheikh Hasina’s bold steps to end extremism and terrorism, and said security and stability of the SEA nations has been enhanced under her leadership. This, he said, has helped in flourishing economic activities in the region. “We should work to repatriate the persecuted people from the land of Bangladesh,” he added.
Momen said the influx of Myanmar nationals to Bangladesh has been massive and they have been forcefully pushed out of their country of origin. This, he felt, has also posed a threat to the ongoing development trajectory in Bangladesh.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said India has always shared ancient civilizational linkages with the countries belonging to East and South East Asia. These links, he said, have passed through Assam and the northeast. “Ties between the northeast and ASEAN blocs are historical, cultural, social and economic. Taking this into consideration, Assam and the northeast can be used as a launch pad for intensifying mutual cooperation,” he added, extending gratitude to Bangladesh for its work to bring back peace in the region.
Union minister of ports, shipping & waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Our shared history and familiar conditions has created a common ground to build a peaceful and sustainable future. The Indian government is deeply committed to working towards its ambitious Act East Policy, as envisaged by our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, to advance our shared values & legacy for the benefit of humanity, peace, stability & prosperity. With evolving global realities, the engines of economic growth are moving towards.”
High commissioner of Singapore to India Simon Wong, Ambassador of Cambodia to India Ung Sean, Assam minister of trade, industry and Act East affairs Chandra Mohan Patowary, chairman of Governing Council, Asian Confluence, MP Bezbaruah and executive director of Asian Confluence Sabyasachi Dutta also graced the occasion.