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    Bangladesh prepares strategy paper for Rohingyas

    Kaladan Press:
    June 2, 2013

    Chittagong,
    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
    vehicles.
    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
    camps.
    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.