President Md Abdul Hamid assured the Rohingyas of ensuring their safety before sending them back to Myanmar during a visit to a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
He distributed relief among the refugees at the Balukhali camp on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking to the president, the refugees expressed concern over the atrocities they might face like their family members again after returning to Rakhine State.
Hamid replied, “Not only Bangladesh, but the entire world is also at their side. You will be sent back only after your safety and dignity are ensured in your homeland.”
After distributing the relief, he told the reporters that Bangladesh stood beside the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds though they are a ‘huge burden’ for the country.
“A deal has been struck. Now, their safe and dignified return will be ensured. The international pressure is there,” the president said.
Around 400,000 Rohingyas, who fled persecution in Myanmar, have been in Cox’s Bazar for decades. On top of that, over 600,000 more refugees have joined them following an army operation in Rakhine in response to insurgent attacks on security forces on Aug 25 this year.
Around 68,000 others crossed the border following a similar crackdown against the Rohingyas in October last year.
Last Thursday, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and U Kyaw Tint Swe, the minister of Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s office, signed an ‘arrangement’ on repatriation of the refugees who arrived in Bangladesh after last year and this year’s violence.
The foreign ministry said an agreement with specific terms would be signed after forming a joint working group within three weeks to start the process to send the Rohingyas back within two months.
Asked how much optimistic he is about the implementation of the deal, President Hamid said, “The discussions have just started. There will be an improvement if these continue.”
Referring to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which allowed Prophet Muhammad and his followers to return to Makkah from Madinah, the president said the treaty looked ‘ignominious’ first but later had proved ‘advantageous’ later.
“I strongly believe they (Rohingyas) will be able to return to their homeland with dignity. The whole world is with Bangladesh,” he said.
Earlier, in the day, the president visited the biometric registration centre and the army’s medical centre at the camp.
Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya accompanied the president during the visit.
Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Ali Hossain appraised the president about the overall condition of the Rohingyas.
Navy Chief Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed and top army, Border Guard Bangladesh and police officers were also present.
The president arrived in Cox’s Bazar in the afternoon. He is scheduled to join the inauguration of the Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in Cox’s Bazar on Monday.