Kaladan Press:
June 2, 2013

Bangladesh: The ministry of foreign affairs, under the direction of the government,
already prepared a draft strategy paper on the Rohingya issue, putting forward
a total of 25 proposals and sent the strategy paper to the relevant ministries
for their opinion, foreign secretary (in-charge) Shahidul Haque told the
reporters on May 24.

“We are preparing
the strategic paper at our own efforts on how to handle the Rohingya refugees
and illegal intruders coming from Myanmar.”

The foreign
secretary more added, “We are waiting for feedback from the ministers concerned
on the draft. After getting their views we will finalize it for our next course
of actions.”
A draft of the
paper now awaits review by the inter-ministerial coordination body, prior to
its approval by the cabinet soon. Replying to a question; Mr. Haque said the
refugee issue will be discussed during the second, two-day Bangladesh-United
States partnership dialogue, beginning from May 26.
“But we will not
have any discussion on the strategy paper in the meeting,” he said.
The cabinet
division suggested the foreign ministry should finalize its proposal for a
special law to punish those who are providing shelter and support to Rohingya
Muslims illegally entering and living in Bangladesh and made some amendments to
the proposals of the draft strategy paper and included new one, according to
foreign ministry official.
According to
Bangladesh report and proposals;- NGOs that are working on Rohingya issues
should not be allowed to work in that area without prior permission from the
government officials entitled to work there; the government may form different
taskforces for districts and upazilas under the leadership of deputy
commissioners (DCs) or upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs), one of the amended
proposals said.
The taskforces will
visit the area once or twice per month to reinforce the provision strictly and
resist the illegal entry of Rohingya, says the strategy paper.
“Those who provide
shelter and support to Rohingya people must be brought under the law, stressing
the need to empower officials working at the Rohingya camps with magistracy
power by incorporating it into the mobile court act.”
According to
Bangladesh report, some 500,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh following ethnic
and religious conflicts during 1978-79 and also later 1991-92. Of them, most of
the refugees were repatriated but some 30,000 are still staying in two refugee
camps—Nayapara and Kutuppalong.
Some 300,000 more
Rohingyas entered Bangladesh during the last seven years on grounds of being
subjected to torture in Burma. Besides, many Rohingyas tried to enter
Bangladesh amid violence from the Arakan State, during the period between June
and October 2012.
Every year,
Bangladesh government spends more than Tk 300 million to provide food and other
facilities to the refugees living in the two camps, according to officials.
For the cause of
Rohingya refugees, this has cast many negative impacts on the country’s image,
they observed. As a result, the government has decided not to allow any more
refugees from Burma and stop their entrance, in the greater national interest
of Bangladesh, the draft mentioned.
The draft paper
also recommended for installation of barbed wire fence on the Bangladesh side
of the border and construction of a 50- kilometer embankment on the bank of the
Naf River so that law enforcers can patrol the areas through motorized
The draft paper
also recommended for engaging Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and local
non-government organizations (NGOs) in place of foreign NGOs in the refugee
The paper suggested
that a survey should be carried out to prepare proper estimates about the
number of refugees of, and illegal entrants from Burma, now staying in
Bangladesh. After the survey, they would keep in several shelter centers for
the purpose of repatriation.
It also stressed
the need for continuous diplomatic negotiation for repatriation of the refugees
to Burma origin and those who illegally entered from Burma into Bangladesh.