Bangladesh has set a good example of how refugees should be treated, Volkan Bozkir, president of the United Nations General Assembly, said on Tuesday regarding Bhasan Char, an island prepared by the government for the Rohingya people.
"The country has shown courage and good hospitality to the distressed people of Myanmar which should be pointed out," the visiting UNGA president said at a press briefing at Foreign Service Academy in Dhaka.
"Due to shortage of time, I cannot visit Bhasan Char. However, I have watched a video of the island," he said adding that excellent work has been done there with better quality of buildings and all kinds of precautions for hurricanes or other disasters.
Volkan Bozkir said he thinks the distressed people will get a better living condition on the island.
Bhasan Char has housing and other facilities for around 1 lakh of the more than 10 lakh Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar and taken shelter in Cox's Bazar, a tourism district.
"In a meeting of the general assembly six weeks ago, we have listened to a special envoy," he said regarding Rohingya repatriation. "It is a mandate and we use the mandate to deal with Myanmar. We will put pressure on the country."
"Further, when I return, there is another general assembly on the Myanmar issue where we will discuss all the aspects and try to find a consensus."
The UNGA president said he will visit Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps on Wednesday and will make a message for Myanmar from there.
"We are completely against a military coup in any country in the world and the military coup in Myanmar is not recognised," he added.
The UN General Assembly president also discussed different important issues in a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
The issues including climate change and migration, peacekeeping and helping peacekeepers by providing vaccines.
Further, they discussed the recently organised first physical event on the Palestine issue in the general assembly as well as means of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 17.
The UNGA present appreciated Bangladesh's role in global peacekeeping and described the country as a front-liner which leads in sending personnel in peacekeeping operations.
He said Bangladesh is also one of the leading countries in tackling climate change.
Replying to a query, Bozkir said, "It is our priority to keep the rights of press and freedom of speech. They can work freely to provide information to the world."
He called for the release of journalists who were arrested and not to repeat this kind of thing in future anymore.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the meeting was fruitful.
Earlier in the morning, Volkan Bozkir called on Prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganabhaban.
The UNGA president said he has admiration for the prime minister for her political and humanitarian thinking and saluted the hospitality and courage that Bangladesh has shown to the Rohingya people.
"We discussed the plight of the Rohingya people, the situation in Myanmar, the impact of climate change, the importance of human-centred development, and gender equality and women's empowerment," he said referring to his meeting with Sheikh Hasina.
They also discussed the significance of the culture of people as Bangladesh is the number one troop-contributing nation to UN peacekeeping operations.
According to a briefing by PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, during the discussion Sheikh Hasina expressed concern about the repatriation of Rohingyas saying "the situation has become uncertain due to the recent developments in Myanmar".
"We were in a dialogue with the Myanmar government with a little progress," she said, adding Bangladesh is monitoring the present situation in Myanmar.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has prepared Bhasan Char for temporary but comfortable shelter of the Myanmar nationals, mentioning that over one lakh people can be shifted there. "More than 18,000 have already been shifted there."
Bozkir said they are thinking about holding the general assembly this year with the physical presence of heads of governments.
"We're thinking of allowing a delegation of one-plus persons from each country in this year's UNGA," he said.
PM's daughter Saima Wazed, who is also the chairperson of the Bangladesh National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Ambassador-at-Large Mohammad Ziauddin were present during the meeting.