COX’S BAZAR (Bangladesh), Oct 17: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it was never Malaysia’s intention to interfere in the internal affairs of Myanmar when it kept harping on the plight of ethnic Rohingya in the country.
He said Malaysia was doing so because the situation had turned into a humanitarian issue, and his visit to a Rohingya refugee camp near here showed that it had become a perennial problem.
“Because it cannot be handled by Bangladesh alone, intervention by other countries including Malaysia is necessary. Malaysia feels that this humanitarian problem has to be resolved through regional collaboration in particular among ASEAN countries.
“Myanmar is an ASEAN member state but humanitarian issues transcend boundaries. That’s why Malaysia through the Prime Minister insisted for Myanmar to resolve the problem, assisted by international organisations. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ should not have happened in Rakhine, Myanmar,” he said here.
Ahmad Zahid was speaking to Malaysian journalists at the conclusion of his two-day working visit to Bangladesh since Sunday.
His main programme was to visit the Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, about 35km from here on Monday.
The deputy prime minister said Malaysia would collaborate with other like-minded ASEAN member states, the International Organisation for Migrants and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as other international organisations in the endeavour to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya refugees.
“Firstly, in the medium-term, continuous welfare, medical aid and education for their children until such a time when they could eventually return to their homeland.
“For the long-term, propose to the United Nations for the region to be made a security zone..maybe UN Security Council members can raise this matter for it to be made a resolution so that finally when the Rohingya return, there is a UN monitoring team there in place,” he said.
The humanitarian crisis is worsening in the Rakhine region in Myanmar with great numbers of ethnic Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh daily and setting up refugee camps on their own.
The figure had not been determined but many quarters estimated it to be one million. For the record, there are only two official Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, which are at Kutupalong and Nayapara but there are dozens of temporary camps that have been set up by the refugees themselves.– Bernama