Voluntary return of Rohingyas is only solution: PM to NAM leaders

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PM to NAM leaders: Noting that the Rohingya crisis has the potential to destabilize Bangladesh and beyond, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the voluntary return of the displaced Rohingyas to their homes in the Rakhine State with security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis.

“We are currently hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. It has the potential to destabilize our country and beyond. We are constrained and seek support of the international community in resolving the crisis. The voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine in a safe and dignified manner is the only solution,” she said at a plenary session of the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, reports UNB.

The session, titled “Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world,” was held at Baku Congress Centre.

Sheikh Hasina said the Rohingya crisis is a political crisis that is deeply rooted in Myanmar. “Thus, its solution also lies in Myanmar.”

Despite the socio-economic successes, Bangladesh is currently dealing with two challenges, Rohingya crisis and the adverse impacts of climate change, the prime minister said at the session, highlighting Bangladesh’s progress in different socio-economic indexes.

About impacts of climate change, Sheikh Hasina said although Bangladesh has little responsibility for global warming, it is suffering heavily from its devastating impacts.

“The international response to climate change, particularly that of developed countries, must therefore fully respect the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” she added.

The prime minister said Bangladesh has been making unprecedented socio-economic progress. “Our GDP growth has now reached 8.13%. We’re making continuous efforts in strengthening democracy and justice by empowering people, especially women,” she said.

She pointed out that Bangladesh’s successes in poverty reduction, primary healthcare, women’s empowerment, gender equality and gender parity in education have been widely acclaimed by the international community.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a country of religious harmony. “We have taken tough stance against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and corruption. Our actions have restored peace and stability in the society.”

About Palestine, the premier said the Palestine question is one of the most difficult problems in recent history.

“Justice for the people of Palestine remains elusive due to a lack of strong actions by the international community to ensure accountability of the Israeli occupation forces. Bangladesh firmly believes the illegal occupation must come to an end,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina congratulated the Republic of Azerbaijan for assuming the Chairmanship of NAM and assured Bangladesh’s full support and cooperation to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

She said Bangladesh is a strong believer in the goals of NAM, noting that the NAM principles have in many ways defined the foreign policy of Bangladesh.

In 1973, recognizing the importance of NAM, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman decided to join the Movement in its Algiers Summit.

There, Bangabandhu uttered with great conviction that the world is divided between those who are the oppressors and those who are the oppressed … Men and women throughout the world crave for peace, they aspire to live in freedom and dignity, she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh is preparing to celebrate the birth centenary of this great leader beginning in March 2020.

Talking about the NAM, she said NAM principles reflect the basic aspirations of the common people. However, the current global scenario presents formidable challenges to these aspirations. The contemporary global challenges call for renewed commitment by the international community to the principles of Bandung, she added.

“Peace and security is an overriding concern for us. Prejudice, ignorance and vested interests stand in the way of world peace and harmony,” said Sheikh Hasina.

She said misunderstanding and cross-cultural ignorance are among the root causes of conflict. In the age of globalization and digitalization, clashes among cultures, too, can have damaging impact on peace and security.

“We must remind ourselves that it took thousands of years of efforts to achieve contemporary values of modern civilization. We must strive together for peace, stability and harmony. We must move beyond minority-majority mindset,” she said.

While the United Nations is primarily responsible for dealing with violent conflicts in many parts of the world, NAM can play an active role in the protection, maintenance and consolidation of peace, said the PM.

“We should work together to utilize the strength and influence of NAM to prevent any country from destabilizing any region,” she said.

She said Bangladesh considers disarmament as an instrument for enhancing international security and has always been active in promoting disarmament. Bangladesh has also pledged firm and determined commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and its peaceful use.

With the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, NAM principles are once again upheld at the UN, said the prime minister.

“We should stand together in conforming to what we agreed in 2015 to reduce inequality within and among countries,” she said.

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