Bangladesh under 'no obligation' to accept stranded Rohingya refugees: Minister
Bangladesh is under “no obligation” to shelter 81 Rohingya Muslim refugees adrift for almost two weeks on the Andaman Sea and being assisted by neighbouring India, said Bangladesh foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen.
India’s coast guard found the survivors and eight dead crammed on a fishing boat and were trying to arrange for Bangladesh to take them, Indian officials said on Friday. While feeding the refugees and giving them water, India was not planning to take them ashore.
But Momen told Reuters late on Friday that Bangladesh expects India, the closest country, or Myanmar, the Rohingyas’ country of origin, to accept them.
“They are not Bangladesh nationals and in fact, they are Myanmar nationals. They were found 1,700 km (1,100 miles) away from the Bangladesh maritime territory and therefore, we have no obligation to take them,” said Momen, who is in the United States.
“They were located 147 km (91 miles) away from Indian territory, 324 km (201 miles) away from Myanmar,” he said by phone, adding that other countries and organisations should take care of the refugees.
Indian foreign ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.