Bangladesh refuses to take in Rohingya detained in Malaysia

Malaysia detained 202 Rohingya refugees in April and chased away another 200 weeks later due to fears over the Covid-19 pandemic. (MMEA pic)

DHAKA: Bangladesh has refused to take back the 269 Rohingya refugees detained by the Malaysian coastguard after being found adrift on a boat off Langkawi island on Monday.

“Bangladesh will not take them. Bangladesh is neither obligated nor in a position to take any more Rohingya,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told Anadolu Agency yesterday.

Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that Wisma Putra would ask Dhaka to take back the refugees if they were found to have fled the camps in Bangladesh’s southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar which is home to more than a million Rohingya refugees.

But Momen, in reply to a query from Anadolu Agency, said the Rohingya were not citizens of Bangladesh.

“They have been the residents of Myanmar for centuries,” he added.

He also called upon other countries to share the burden of taking in the Rohingya refugees instead of putting the pressure solely on Bangladesh.

“Other countries are welcome to take them. Instead of asking us to give shelter, we will welcome the global leadership and organisations to relocate the persecuted 1.1 million Rohingya that are currently temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh,” Momen said.

In April, Malaysian authorities detained 202 Rohingya refugees on a boat also found adrift off Langkawi. Weeks later, the navy chased away a boat carrying 200 Rohingya refugees near the resort island due to fears over the Covid-19 outbreak.

Two more Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar died of the lethal virus yesterday, bringing total casualties to three, according to an official.

“Today (Tuesday), we reported two more deaths in (Rohingya) camps and six more cases, raising the total infection tally to 35,” Bangladesh’s Refugee, Relief and Repatriation commissioner Mahbub Alam Talukder told Anadolu Agency.

He added that more than 20,000 Rohingya reported as close contacts of the infected had been placed under lockdown in their tents at the camps.

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