UK Commissioner in Bangladesh Stresses 3-Point Rohingya Return Plan

By Muktadir Rashid   9 July 2019

DHAKA—British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson reaffirmed a three-point plan for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis at a press conference on Monday, but said he looked forward to hearing more about the discussions Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held with her Chinese counterparts on the matter recently.

Dickson said the long term answer to the crisis must be a “safe, dignified and voluntary” return of the Rohingya to their homeland in Myanmar.

“We are working hard in the [UN] Security Council and elsewhere to try to create a political situation in which the return can take place,” he said at a formal talk hosted by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

He warned, however, that when a million people become displaced, there is a high vulnerability to extremism.

“Examples from other parts of the world [show that] it is obvious, when you have a displaced population, they are potentially vulnerable to radicalization. We’ve seen what has happened to displaced persons in Palestine, in the Middle East,’’ he added.

Dickson suggested three points needed for a safe, dignified and voluntary return.

First, the implementation of the much-talked-about Rakhine proposal from the Kofi Anan Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. It’s implementation would be a basis for addressing the problems the Rohingya now face, he said.

Second, the Rohingya need a pathway to citizenship in Myanmar, a country that has not recognized the Rohingya as an official national race or ethnicity. This, he said, would help give the Rohingya the confidence to return.

Finally, the British diplomat said, it’s important to investigate the crimes that caused the Rohingya to flee across the border in the first place—a proposal the International Criminal Court has already begun looking at.

He also said the Chinese could play a role in combined international efforts.

“It is very urgent to work together to find out a solution for the Rohingya,” he said, adding that a united approach in the UN Security Council would also be helpful.

This sort of complicated international problem cannot be solved without working together, he said.

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