Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a solemn plea to world leaders gathered in Paris on Thursday to "act seriously" to facilitate the safe repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
"The world must act seriously to make sure that these people (Rohingya) can go back to Myanmar soon," Hasina stated Thursday afternoon during the fourth edition of the Paris Peace Forum.
Her speech at the forum, which was also attended by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and other world leaders, was streamed live by private media outlets.
The Bangladeshi leader is currently in France on a five-day state visit.
"Security risks from the crisis will not just remain confined to our borders," she warned, referring to the delay in the peaceful and dignified repatriation of persecuted Rohingya Muslims to their country as a crisis for the entire region. "We already see signs of that," state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported.
Over a million stateless Rohingya have been living in the squalid makeshift tents in the country's southern Cox's Bazar district for years.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar military forces launched a brutal crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed while more than 34,000 were thrown into fires, over 114,000 beaten, as many as 18,000 Rohingya women and girls raped, over 115,000 Rohingya homes burned down and 113,000 others vandalized by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
Seeking a more global response to the Rohingya crisis, Hasina added that Bangladesh has temporarily sheltered Myanmar's forcibly displaced nationals to avoid a major regional crisis.
Earlier, she called on French President Emmanuel Macron and urged him to bring the Rohingya issue to the U.N. Security Council, where France is a permanent member.
Meanwhile, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Thursday evening, the Bangladeshi leader awarded the first-ever UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize for the "Creative Economy" to MoTIV Creations Limited, a Ugandan private limited company.
Addressing the award ceremony, Hasina said Bangladesh will contribute to socioeconomic development and technological advancement for the betterment of the global community with its limited resources.
The main objective of the prize is to recognize and reward exceptional initiatives by an individual, institution or nongovernmental organization that has made an innovative contribution to promoting youth entrepreneurship in the creative economy.
MoTIV was selected from 69 nominations for the award, and the company will also get a cash prize of $50,000 in appreciation of its outstanding contributions to the creative economy.
The prize will be given every two years from now on, according to sources in the Bangladeshi government.