Dhaka, Friday   22 March 2019

Rohingya repatriation

Long, arduous road ahead: Singapore FM

 Staff Correspondent

 Published: 09:55 AM, 5 November 2018   Updated: 09:55 AM, 5 November 2018

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visits a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visits a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday

Singaporean Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has said though Bangladesh and Myanmar are having detailed discussions on the commencement of repatriation the road ahead is long and arduous.

“The road ahead is long and arduous. Many details have to be sorted out first to ensure voluntary, safe, secure and dignified repatriation,” he said while wrapping up his two-day visit. 

The Singaporean Minister is set to begin his Myanmar visit on Monday and will discuss the Rohingya repatriation issue with top officials in Nay Pyi Taw.

After his visit to Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar on Sunday, he said the current situation is not sustainable. 

“The refugees I spoke to all want to return home to Myanmar. Their prime concern is for their children’s future,” said the Minister.  

Balakrishnan visited the Rohingya camps at the Kutupalong-Balukhali expansion site and the zero line with his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali.   

There are some twenty camps, stretching across the horizon.

The Singaporean Minister in his verified Facebook page wrote that the government and people of Bangladesh have been “absolutely wonderful” in providing humanitarian support for a million of Rohingyas under very difficult conditions. 

International agencies are also actively providing essential assistance, said the minister adding that Singapore has contributed financial and humanitarian aid too. 

Before his visit to Cox's Bazar, he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday.

They reaffirmed two countries’ close bilateral ties and economic cooperation, which have been expanding steadily since we established diplomatic relations in 1972.  

Today, Singapore is Bangladesh’s fourth largest source of Foreign Direct Investment, and their companies are showing increasing interest in the growing Bangladeshi market, particularly in the power, connectivity and infrastructure sectors. 

He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is a “courageous leader” who has made great sacrifices for her country. 

The Singaporean Minister said Bangladesh has made great strides under her leadership. “I hope that our bilateral cooperation will continue to strengthen.” 

During his meeting with Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali again, they reviewed the strong bilateral relations and close cooperation between two nations. 

Minister Ali also briefed him on the status of Rohingyas and their repatriation process that will hopefully commence soon.

They both emphasized the need to do so in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner. 

Meanwhile, the Singaporean Minister said ASEAN stands ready to support Bangladesh and Myanmar in finding a long-term solution.

ASEAN consists of 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS), namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.