Rohingya crisis can harm Chinese OBOR, other regional plans: Experts

Rohingya crisis can harm Chinese OBOR, other regional plans: Experts

SAM Report,

Protracted Rohingya crisis might jeopardise regional connectivity initiatives, including One Belt One Road initiative of China, with multiple risks of emergence of terrorism and social and economic instability, experts said at a discussion in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 11 November.

Chinese One Belt One Road initiative ‘will be seriously jeopardised’ due to Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan said, adding that regional initiatives for connectivity by India and under regional groups BIMSTEC and BCIM would also be hampered.

There was the risk of emergence of terrorism in the region, he warned at a dialogue organised by Center for Policy Dialogue.

Bangladesh’s Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque, who was chief guest at the function, said the government ‘wants to exhaust’ all scopes to peacefully settle Rohingya issues through bilateral mechanism.

Also Read: Rohingya crisis: Foreign ministers from 4 countries to visit Bangladesh

Describing the Rohingya crisis as a political issue, he said the government was seeking political support from the international communities together with looking at all ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ options to send them back.

‘This is a conflict between Myanmar authorities and nationals of the country’, he said, adding that Bangladesh’s role was as a responsive and responsible state from humanitarian perspective.

The Bangladesh authorities were working very closely for reaching an agreement to set a mechanism for the return of Rohingyas to their home, he said, stressing full implementation of the final report of the Kofi Annan Commission.

Farooq Sobhan, also a former foreign secretary, said the Myanmar authorities would expel the ‘rest 4,00,000’ Rohingyas still staying back in Rakhine.

He said that there were fundamental differences between the recent waves of exodus (in 2012, 2016 and 2017) from Rakhine State with those in 1978 and 1991.

Buddhist ‘element’ was not involved in 1978 and 1991 exoduses and UN access was not denied, Farooq said.

Rohingyas had come with ‘paper’ (of their nationality) in the past, but now they were without documents, he observed.

CPD chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said Bangladesh was unlikely to get rid of Rohingya crisis in spite of adoption of innumerable UN resolutions and international support unless the moves were backed by major countries with veto power.

CPD distinguished fellow Devapriya Bhattecharje said presence of Rohingyas would create substantial challenges with multiple dimensions for Bangladesh.

Also Read: UNHCR for ensuring security in Rakhine to repatriate Rohingyas

CPD executive director Fahmida Khatun presented keynote paper in the dialogue.

She suggested keeping short, medium and long-term implications for domestic and foreign resources with assessing all explicit and implicit costs related to the Rohingya crisis.

Law enforcing agencies have to be vigilant to stop illegal activities, drug trade, trafficking and terrorism, she said.

BRAC executive director Muhammad Musa stressed the need for a mid-term and a long-term plan for managing the Rohingya crisis with creating environment on both sides of the borders for the return of the Rohingyas.

He also suggested taking programme for supporting the local communities in Cox’s Bazar and adjacent areas in other districts.

Creating waves of exodus of Rohingyas by Myanmar military’s operations in Rakhine State ‘is non-military aggression’ in Bangladesh which would have security, social and environmental hazards here in future, former ambassador Mahmood Hasan said.

Stressing the need for ‘serious policy rethink’ by the government, former Bangladesh ambassador to Myanmar AMSA Amin said, ‘We want peace, but prepare for all’, as China was a kingpin in the Rohingya affairs.

China might forget humanitarian aspects of the Rohingya issues, he warned.

Dhaka University professor Imtiaz Ahmed said the Myanmar military was engaged in genocide as it wanted to destroy the entire community in Rakhine State.

Bangladesh indigenous People Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong said Rohingya crisis would have serious economic and social impacts in hill areas as Rohingyas might go for the customary lands in Chittagong Hill Tracts districts.

Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Border Guard Bangladesh director general Major General Abul Hossain, security expert M Sakhawat Hossain, Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Promotion Council president Rashed Maksud Khan, Ain O Salish Kendra executive director Sheepa Hafiza, International Monetary Fund resident representative Ragnar Gudmundsson and representatives of several local and foreign organisations also participated in the discussion.