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Not a single Rohingya has been repatriated since the influx of refugees into Bangladesh three and a half year ago. Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen wants to start Rohingya repatriation this year, he told the newspersons at his office in Dhaka on Sunday.

Abdul Momen said, “Rohingya repatriation is a big challenge for us. We want to start the repatriation this year. I’ve sent a letter to Myanmar’s Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor, Kyaw Tint Swe, on 1 January wishing him New Year. I said, let us begin the repatriation process this year.”

Referring to Myanmar’s promise about Rohingya repatriation, Momen told Tint Swe, “You have giving us you word on taking back Rohingyas, ensuring their safety and an environment conducive to repatriation. But no progress has been made. For that, political will is essential.”

He said that they expected Myanmar to keep their word in the New Year, adding if he didn’t take them back there would be a risk of instability.

Replying to a query, the foreign minister said, besides China, Bangladesh also wants cooperation from Japan on repatriation issues.

The minister said, “Japan has big investment in Myanmar. So we have requested them to hold talks with Myanmar. Japan assured us that they will.”

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Like China and Japan, India will hold talks with Myanmar, he added.

Regarding the relocation of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char, Abdul Momen said, “False reports are being that the island Bhasan Char will be submerged. We have been overseeing the island since 1990. Bhasan Char didn’t even suffer damage in the last cyclone Amphan.”

Abdul Momen further said, “We have decided to visit Bhashan Char with foreign diplomatic corps and the media. A UN delegation visited the place before and they will come with us this time too.”

The foreign minister said landslides may occur at the Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps. Crime is on the rise there. There is environmental damage there too. Besides, social problems have been arising such as deceased wages of local labourers and the rise in the price of essentials.”