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Humanitarian Attache To Be Assigned To Bangladesh - DPM

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COX'S BAZAR (Bangladesh) - Malaysia will assign a humanitarian and welfare attache to Bangladesh to fulfill the government's commitment in helping Rohingya ethnic refugees currently sheltered at refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he would raise the matter in the Cabinet next week to expedite the process.

"The attache, from the National Security Council (MKN) will be based at the Malaysian High Commission in Dhaka. He will assist the high commission's office not only to coordinate but also ensure that every aid reaches the refugees," he told Malaysian journalists here, at the end of his two-day working visit to Bangladesh since Sunday.

While visiting the Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, about 35 km from here on Monday, Ahmad Zahid said the MKN would coordinate the process of channelling humanitarian aid to the recipients.

"This is to ensure that all aid reach the target in addition to ensuring the type of assistance that the refugees need," he said.

He is confident that with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's commitment, the Foreign Affairs Ministry would be able to initiate the administrative appointment immediately, in a matter of 30 days.

"This move will hopefully reflect the government's commitment in easing the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. This is the first time that we are assigning a humanitarian and welfare attache," he said.

He added that although there had never been any occasion where aid did not reach the recipients, it was still good to conduct constant monitoring.

Meanwhile, he would discuss with the prime minister and propose to the cabinet on MKN's role as coordinator in channelling aid to the Rohingya refugees.

"It includes aid from the government to set up a field hospital, which would be built by the Defence Ministry, Health Ministry and Malaysian Armed Forces Medical Corps.

"As well as cooperation with the media to collect aid for MKN to channel to Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bangladesh and other welfare bodies concerned with the Rohingya people," he said.

He also expressed his appreciation to Malaysian NGOs that are in Bangladesh to render aid to the Rohingya refugees.

Prior to the press conference, Ahmad Zahid presented six million taka (RM309,000) to the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisations (Mapim) and two million taka (RM103,000) to Mercy Malaysia in regard to their efforts to assist Rohingya refugees.

The humanitarian crisis in Rakhine, Myanmar is worsening with more ethnic Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh daily and more refugee camps being set up.

The exact number of refugees is unknown but estimated by many quarters as having exceeded one million.

For the record, there are only two official camps for the Rohingya refugees, namely Kutupalong and Nayapara but dozens more have been set up by the refugees with the number increasing by the day.

-BERNAMA