'India can do a lot': Sheikh Hasina on Rohingya issue
On a four-day visit to India starting on Monday, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina has said India is a vast country and can "do a lot" to help Bangladesh cope with the Rohingya refugee crisis. In an informal interaction with reporters at a reception by the Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi, she also talked about the possibility of a joint project for rejuvenating cross-border rivers.
Why does this story matter?
- Bangladesh has been pushing for India to use its diplomatic influence with Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas—1.1 million of whom are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh and 40,000 in India, as per Human Rights Watch.
- They were forced to flee their homes in the Rakhine state of Myanmar following persecution by the Myanmar military, which has taken over the country.
'India is a vast country'
In an interview with ANI on Monday, Hasina said accommodating the Rohingya migrants is a huge burden on Bangladesh as compared to India because it is a vast country. She said their refugee camps ran the risk of environmental hazards, apart from the refugees engaging in drug trafficking, women trafficking, and arms conflict. She said it was "increasing day by day."
Sheikh Hasina talks about the Rohingya crisis and India's role
The Rohingya migrants are a “big burden” on Bangladesh and the country is reaching out to the international community to ensure they return to their homeland, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said adding that she feels India could play a major role in resolving the issue. pic.twitter.com/PVKMgicH2D— Eagle Eye (@SortedEagle) September 4, 2022
Consulting international community to ensure Rohingyas' safe return
On Monday, Hasina said they sheltered the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds and vaccinated them all as the pandemic struck. "But how long they will stay here?" she asked. She said Bangladesh is consulting with the international community and neighboring countries to ensure the safe return of Rohingyas to their homeland. Hasina said she felt India could play a major role in resolving the crisis.
India could provide line of credit for river project: Hasina
Hasina also talked about a potential joint project with India for the dredging and rejuvenation of cross-border rivers. She said since Bangladesh is a lower riparian state, the waters of these rivers would inevitably flow into their side. She said dredging and desilting could improve the flow, adding India could provide a line of credit for the project. Talks on river water-sharing are pending.
Hasina to meet PM Modi today
Hasina is scheduled to meet PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday to discuss these issues along with allowing Bangladeshi TV channels to air on Indian cable networks. She appreciated the consensus among all Indian parties on issues regarding Bangladesh, which helped tackle problems of settlement of land and maritime borders. She said she planned to meet West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, but that couldn't happen.