Indonesia seeks Bangladesh support to resolve Rohingya crisis
21 December 2016

BANGKOK (ANN/ANN) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi held discussions with her Bangladeshi counterpart to seek a permanent solution to end the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Rakhine state and also met Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh and heard their tales of assault orchestrated by Myanmar's security forces. Here are two ANN media reports.

The Jakarta Post, Indonesia - Indonesia seeks Bangladesh support on Rohingya

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi concluded her visit to Bangladesh on Tuesday to seek lasting solutions for the plight of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar, which has long been a source of tension between Nay Pyi Taw and Dhaka.

Retno held bilateral talks with her Bangladeshi counterpart AH Mahmood Ali but also raised concerns about the tumult in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has sparked tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee across the borders into Bangladesh.

“Indonesian-Bangladeshi cooperation goes beyond bilateral interests. It is also an important component in solving the refugee problem in the region,” she said in a press statement after the meeting on Tuesday.

She reiterated the importance of Myanmar and Bangladesh maintaining good ties despite the current influx of refugees, as it would support the existing efforts to manage the Bangladesh-Myanmar frontier.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with regional foreign ministers to tackle growing international criticism of her army’s forceful treatment of the country’s Rohingya minority, which some critics say constitutes crimes against humanity.

Human rights groups have accused the Myanmar military of perpetrating mass murder, looting and rape against the Rohingya in Rakhine in a counterinsurgency operation following coordinated attacks on border police outposts that killed nine officers.

The Rohingya are not considered citizens by Myanmar law and have also been turned away by ethnically similar Bangladesh.

After the bilateral meeting in Dhaka, both foreign ministers were briefed by the UN refugee agency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization on Migration.

The agencies presented the challenges in addressing the influx of Rohingya, which had resulted in overcrowding in refugee camps. Official data show there has been an increase of 10,000 refugees since the October 9 attacks on border posts near the Rakhine border.

Currently, there are an estimated 32,000 Muslim refugees from Myanmar registered between the two camps in Bangladesh, in addition to another 200,000 unregistered refugees residing at the border.

Concerns over the far-reaching effects of the turmoil in Rakhine have sparked a regional response, as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) looks to prevent a repeat of the 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis that saw thousands of Rohingya become victims of human trafficking in their efforts to flee the country.

Earlier on Monday, Asean foreign ministers convened in Yangon to discuss openly about the situation in Rakhine at the invitation of Suu Kyi.

During talks with the Nobel laureate before departure to Dhaka, Retno urged stronger communications between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi reciprocated by offering to send a special envoy to Bangladesh, which was passed on to Mahmood Ali and was apparently well-received.

After the briefing, both ministers visited two refugee camps in Ukhiya of Cox’s Bazar, a border town almost 400 kilometres from the capital.

They spent most of their time at a facility for unregistered refugees, where most of the recent inbound Rohingya from Myanmar have taken shelter, Bangladesh’s Daily Star reported.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Shahriar Alam, local lawmaker Abdur Rahman Bodi, Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Wiranataatmadja and Secretary General of the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry Md. Shahidul Haque also made the visit.

Accompanied by Mahmood Ali, Retno spoke with the Rohingya at the camps in Kutupalong.

“One can capture the complexity of the problem in Rakhine state from listening to the refugees’ stories. However, their living conditions remain meagre regardless of the reasons they came to Kutupalong,” Retno said during the visit.

“Hence, as fellow humans we have to work harder to help them,” Retno emphasised.

Retno also asserted that the refugee crisis should be tackled in the country of origin. To this end, she urged the region’s leaders and other concerned stakeholders to support whatever efforts the Myanmar government was taking to ensure inclusive development in Rakhine.

The Daily Star, Bangladesh - Indonesian FM soaks up Rohingya crisis in Cox's Bazar

Visiting different Rohingya refugee camps in Ukhia of Cox's Bazar, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Tuesday witnessed sufferings of the Rohingyas who are fleeing persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state to seek protection in Bangladesh.

Marsudi arrived in Bangladesh Monday night on a 24-hour visit after attending a meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries with Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon.

Marsudi accompanied by her Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and other senior officials, flew to the camps where some 32,000 Rohingyas have long been staying.

She spent much of her time speaking to registered and unregistered Rohingya refugees in at the camps where the refugees described to the visitors the assaults by the Myanmarese security forces against them.

The ministers also met those who arrived here since the eruption of the ongoing violence on October 9. But their comments and conversation with the refugees could not be known as the media was not allowed inside the camps.

"The discussions with the community allowed the visitors to better understand the ground realities that have forced some 34,000 civilians to cross the border…in recent… months," says a UNHCR-IOM joint press release.

Unofficial sources, however, said the figure is much higher as the Rohingyas are entering Bangladesh through the porous border.

Sarat Dash, chief of mission of International Migration Organisation, Bangladesh and Shinji Kubo, UNHCR Bangladesh country representative, accompanied the ministers.

The Indonesian minister also called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gono Bhaban in the capital.


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