Dhaka, September 22: Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed creating UN-supervised safe zones inside Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims, who are fleeing a military crackdown to seek refuge in her country.
Sheikh Hasina said “ensure safety for all the citizens, irrespective of race and religion, and building a security zone in Myanmar under the supervision of UN. Also send an investigative team of the United Nations Secretary General to Myanmar immediately.”
Addressing her speech in Bengali, she said it was the 14th time she was addressing the UN General Assembly, but this time she came with a heavy heart just after seeing the "hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingyas" who took shelter in Bangladesh fleeing persecution in their country.
"Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas from the Rakhine State are entering Bangladesh to flee violence. As estimated by IOM, in last three weeks over four lakh thirty thousand Rohingyas entered Bangladesh," she said.
They are fleeing 'ethnic cleansing' in their own country where they have been living for centuries, she said adding that Bangladesh is currently sheltering over 800,000 Rohingyas.
She also alleged that Myanmar authorities are laying landmines in their territory along their border so that Rohingyas cannot return to their native homes.
Notably, Bangladesh had announced plans to build shelters for up to four lakh Rohingya Muslims fleeing from neighbouring Myanmar. The Army and aid agencies are due to erect 14 thousand shelters, each housing six families, near the city of Cox's Bazar.
Earlier, Foreign minister Mahmood Ali informed that around 300,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh in last two weeks, taking the total number of Myanmar nationals currently living here to 700,000 from 400,000.
The foreign minister told the diplomats that Bangladesh always preferred bilateral solution to this longstanding problem and was successful in repatriating 236,599 Rohingyas through a bilateral agreement in 1992.