US State Department official warns of impending Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh

By Tajul Islam

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Donald Lu, expressed apprehension that the situation in Myanmar is not showing signs of improvement. He raised concerns about the potential for a looming refugee crisis and heightened security issues for Bangladesh, and possibly India as well, which could exacerbate in the future.

Donald Lu commended Sri Lanka as an exemplary model of successful strategy in Indo-Pacific affairs, working collaboratively with India and other partners. Additionally, he cautioned both Dhaka and Delhi about the deteriorating security situation stemming from the Rohingya crisis and unrest in Myanmar, emphasizing its ongoing impact on neighboring countries.

Offering insight into Washington DC’s perspective on India’s neighboring countries, Donald Lu remarked that during a recent visit to the Maldives, he emphasized to officials that China could only be regarded as a valuable partner if it encountered genuine competition from other nations.

Regarding ongoing dialogues between India and the US concerning collaborative efforts in African littoral states, Donald Lu recognized India’s leadership in the Indian Ocean region and underscored the imperative for action in that domain.

Donald Lu delivered these remarks during a high-level meeting alongside other administration officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, and the Pentagon last week. The meeting commemorated the two-year anniversary of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington.

Addressing regional disparities, Lu briefly referenced the India-China border conflict and characterized the longstanding conflict between India and Pakistan as “historic and deep.” He highlighted that significant attention was devoted to discussing how the situation in Myanmar could impact the broader South Asian region.

“I dedicated considerable thought to Bangladesh, particularly regarding the Rohingya refugees residing there, and contemplated the potential ramifications of unrest in Burma for the broader region,” he remarked.

“The United States has collaborated extensively with Bangladesh to bolster Dhaka’s commendable support for over a million people,” stated Donald Lu. “I had the privilege to visit Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp, and personally observe this remarkable generosity. Furthermore, I have witnessed the collective determination of the international community to collaborate in repatriating these refugees.”

Lu also expressed concern about the stagnant situation in Burma, highlighting his apprehensions about an impending refugee crisis and potential security challenges for Bangladesh, and possibly India as well, which could exacerbate in the near future.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Donald Lu, emphasized the necessity for vigilance and solidarity with regional partners, particularly Bangladesh and India, to tackle these challenges without exacerbating instability within their respective nations.

In recent days, Rohingyas have been fleeing their original homes and dispersing across different regions within the state to seek safety amidst the conflict between the military and the rebel group Arakan Army in Rakhine, Myanmar. Amidst this crisis, the United Nations has appealed to Bangladesh to offer refuge to hundreds of Rohingyas who have arrived at the border areas of the two countries on humanitarian grounds. However, Bangladesh has explicitly stated its inability to accommodate any new Rohingya arrivals.

Official sources reveal that such deliberations occurred during a meeting of the National Task Force on Rohingya Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka on Wednesday, February 14. The meeting, chaired by Foreign Secretary Masoud Bin Momen, was attended by representatives from various government ministries and departments, as well as various United Nations organizations.

During the meeting of the National Task Force, Ms. Sumbal Rizvi, the representative of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), raised the issue of approximately 900 Rohingyas gathered at 19 points along the border of the two countries, awaiting entry into Bangladesh. Rizvi appealed for the provision of shelter to these Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.

In response, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen conveyed that Bangladesh cannot accommodate any new Rohingya arrivals. This stance aligns with recent statements made by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, reiterating the government’s position. The current presence of sheltered Rohingyas has already posed various challenges for Bangladesh, making it unfeasible to shelter additional Rohingyas at this time.

Author’s bio: Tajul Islam, a senior journalist and Special Correspondent of Weekly Blitz writes on a broad-range of issues in local and international media. Follow him on X @tajulraj1

Tajul Islam
Senior journalist
Special Correspondent of BLiTZ
Online edition:

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.