Sun, Aug 25, 2019 8:08

Leading NGOs silent about repatriation provocation charges


Information Minister Hasan Mahmud also reiterated the same allegation on Friday

A second attempt to start the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar has failed. The foreign ministry says that some non-government organizations (NGOs) were hampering the progress of repatriation on Thursday.

Information Minister Hasan Mahmud also reiterated the same allegation on Friday.

However, leading NGOs, especially international ones, kept mum about the issue, with many of them refusing to comment.

Though Dhaka Tribune repeatedly contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and BRAC, about their stance on the allegation, only BRAC responded.

Mohammed Abdus Salam, head of the Humanitarian Crisis Management Programme being implemented by BRAC said they were not aware of activities in the refugee camps that are discouraging Rohingya from returning to Myanmar.

“Had there been such instigations in the camps, the NGO Affairs Bureau (which works under the PMO) after a thorough investigation, must have stopped the accused NGOs, if there was any,” he observed.

When asked about BRAC’s reaction about the claim by the foreign ministry and the information minister, Salam said their NGO has no “formal” comments on that.

On Thursday, the parliamentary standing committee on the foreign ministry recommended identifying through proper monitoring, the NGOs accused of hampering the progress of starting the repatriation.

The committee’s chairman, Faruk Khan, told the meeting that the ministry reported some NGOs for misleading the Rohingyas regarding repatriation.

“These NGOs are telling the Rohingya refugees not to return to Myanmar until some conditions, including their citizenship rights, are met,” he said.

Similar allegations surfaced on March 13 this year when Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq, referring to intelligence reports, said many NGOs working for the Rohingyas were operating with “ill motive.”

Information Minister Hasan Mahmud at a program on Friday said: “Many NGOs are against the repatriation since they receive massive funds for running projects in refugee camps.”

He, nevertheless, said: “Not all the NGOs are linked to provoking Rohingyas, regarding their return to Myanmar.”

He went on to say: “Before the August 22 repatriation procedure, some NGOs in a joint statement claimed that Myanmar lacked the atmosphere suitable for repatriation.’’

“They did the same in the past. We can see that Rohingyas have lost their faith (about Myanmar). Many are taking advantage of the situation, by demotivating them about the return,” he said.

On Wednesday, 61 NGOs in the joint statement said Rohingyas have been struggling for their rights, security, and dignity, ever since they were forced to flee to Bangladesh from their homeland two years ago.

They also expressed their concerns about the possibility of a worsening crisis in Myanmar, urging Bangladesh and Myanmar to engage the refugees on their safe and voluntary returns.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said, both Bangladesh and Myanmar were “fully ready” to resume the repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland but some Rohingya leaders and NGOs were reportedly discouraging them from returning.

“We’ve heard some Rohingya leaders emerged there. They don’t want the return of any Rohingya (to their homeland). They’re trying to stop returnees,” he said.