QUESTIONS ON ROHINGYA
Climate is not the only issue on which Bangladesh sees inaction from the West.
Around 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017 after a scorched-earth campaign against the minority group by troops in neighbouring Myanmar, a campaign that the United States has described as genocide.
While the world has saluted Bangladesh for taking in the refugees – along with 100,000 who fled earlier violence – attention has shifted since the COVID-19 pandemic and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As long as they are in our country, we feel that it is our duty,” she said. But for Bangladeshi hosts, patience is running thin, she said.
Michelle Bachelet, then the UN human rights chief, said on a visit in August that there was growing anti-Rohingya sentiment in Bangladesh.
“Local people also suffer a lot,” Hasina said. “I can’t say that they’re angry, but they feel uncomfortable.”
“All the burden is coming upon us. This is a problem.”
The Rohingya refugees, who are mostly Muslim, live largely in ramshackle camps with tarpaulins, sheet metal and bamboo.
Bachelet on her visit said there was no prospect of sending them back to Buddhist-majority, military-run Myanmar, where the Rohingya are not considered citizens.
But in her interview, Hasina signalled that there were few options other than for the Rohingya to reside in camps.
“It is not possible for us to give them an open space because they have their own country. They want to go back there. So that is the main priority for everybody,” Hasina said.
“If anybody wants to take them, they can take them,” she added. “Why should I object?”