US Agrees to Resettle 62 Rohingya Refugees from Bangladesh

By Muktadir Rashid   7 December 2022

DHAKA – Western countries say they have started the resettlement process and Bangladesh said that 62 Rohingya refugees would soon fly to the United States.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister, AK Abdul Momen, said 62 was “a drop in the ocean” but appreciated his US counterpart, secretary of state Antony Blinken, had made a start.

A Bangladesh official told The Irrawaddy that a committee was being established to oversee the resettlement process in the US.

In August Blinken announced that he was working to resettle Rohingya from the region, including from Bangladesh, in the US.

He said the US stood in solidarity with Bangladesh and other Rohingya-hosting countries.

“As an essential component of an international, comprehensive humanitarian response, we are working to significantly increase resettlement of Rohingya refugees from the region, including from Bangladesh, so that they can rebuild their lives in the United States,” a statement read.

US assistant secretary for refugees and migration Julieta Noyes this week visited Rohingya camps and held meetings in Cox’s Bazar and Dhaka.

“We are proud to support the resettlement of the most vulnerable Rohingyas in our country,” she told the media in Dhaka after meeting Momen.

Noyes tweeted: “We discussed a comprehensive approach to the protracted crisis, with international support.”

She said that they had worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to identify the most vulnerable Rohingya for resettlement.

Momen said 62 Rohingya had been listed for resettlement in the US and some of them would fly to the US on Thursday with 300 to 800 more being repatriated annually.

He said he requested the US resettle at least 100,000 Rohingya as Bangladesh was hosting over 1.1 million members of the Muslim community after they were forced from Myanmar mostly in 2017 amid a military crackdown in Rakhine State.

He said the resettlements were nothing to get excited about and around 600,000 Rohingya in Myanmar might take the advantage to cross into Bangladesh in the hope of reaching the US.

Tanzimuddin Khan, a migration scholar at the University of Dhaka, said the resettlements might encourage more genocide in Myanmar and do nothing to protect Rohingya rights in Rakhine State.

Dhaka-based rights group Ain O Salish Kendra’s executive director Mohammad Nur Khan said Rohingya resettlements have been taking place for decades.

He insisted that the authorities consider the security threat facing individuals while preparing them for resettlement.

“We urge the authorities to consider young Rohingyas as a priority. They should be given opportunities to study,” said Nur Khan. “One of the best ways will be to offer an educational scholarship abroad because they have no scope for high-level studies in the camps.”

The Bangladesh authorities have finished security checks of Rohingya to be resettled and allowed them to travel. The process has been stepped up since the assassination of Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah in Kutupalang camp in September last year.

His family and associates are being resettled in Canada.

Dhaka says Canada has resettled 64 Rohingya refugees this year while the Netherlands has taken seven and Australia 10.

Four others are prepared for resettlement in Italy.

Numerous Rohingya continue to risk perilous boat journeys to Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.