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'Saudi Arabia won't send Rohingya back to Bangladesh'

March 12, 2021 at 11:10 am

Rohingyas, who fled from the ongoing military operations in Myanmar, line up for food aid at a refugee camp in Bangladesh on 24 September 2017 [Safvan Allahverdi/Anadolu Agency]

Rohingya refugees who have been residing in Saudi Arabia for decades will not be sent back to Bangladesh, a top Bangladeshi diplomat said on Wednesday following a recent visit to the kingdom.

“Saudi Arabia didn’t say they would send Rohingya back to Bangladesh. And, there was no such issue between the two countries,” said Bangladeshi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, referring to his recent meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir.

In response to a question of what Bangladesh will do following Saudi calls to provide Bangladeshi passports to some Rohingya living in Saudi Arabia, including some 55,000 people who lost their documents or whose documents have expired, the minister said Dhaka will provide or renew passports of those who have legal documents.

Alam made the comments at a press conference in Dhaka after returning from Saudi Arabia a day earlier.

“We asked the Saudi government to provide details on the documents, including passport numbers and names as the people only have border entry numbers […] and then we will take the next course of action after scrutinising their documents,” he said.

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“We will do the job the way nationality is usually verified. Yes, there were some incidents and loopholes and irregular works in the passport providing procedures thus some people secured passports from the Cox’s Bazar and Chattogram region and went to the Kingdom. And, if we can identify anyone Bangladeshi we will provide them with Bangladeshi passports,” Alam said.

“We, both countries, are and will remain engaged on the issue,” he underlined.

According to a media report in January this year, Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Issa Bin Youssef Al-Duhailan said in Dhaka that his government had already sent a list of some 55,000 people whose documents were either lost or expired.