RETURN OF ROHINGYAS
Dhaka wants Myanmar to take early steps
Dhaka finds progress in talks but sees repatriation very complex, difficult
Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 01:30, May 18,2018 | Updated: 01:38, May 18,2018
The Bangladesh government on Thursday stressed that the Myanmar authorities must create environment conducive to return of Rohingyas taking certain specific measures, including ensuring rights to property and freedom of movement for them to encourage the forcibly displaced people to return to Rakhine State.
At a meeting of the joint working group in Dhaka, Bangladesh said that the Myanmar authorities should take steps to immediately stop propaganda rejecting fundamental rights of ethnic minority Rohingyas and campaign against return of Rohingyas people who entered Bangladesh fleeing persecution in Rakhine, diplomatic sources said.
The Bangladesh side also demanded not to make the use of national verification card provided by Myanmar authorities mandatory for confirmation of return of Rohingyas. Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh side in the joint working group meeting while permanent secretary at Myanmar foreign ministry Myint Thu led the delegation of the country.
Asked about the progress made at the meeting, Shahidul said, ‘You are aware that the process of repatriation is always a very complex and difficult matter. But we think this repatriation would start as early as possible. There is progress in our discussion.’
Bangladesh delegation stressed that the returnees should be taken to their place of origin at respective villages without much delay at reception-villages and their safety and security after their return should be ensured.The Myanmar side claimed that they made progress in preparations for receiving the displaced people from Bangladesh. Several officials said that the Myanmar side could not give satisfactory elaboration
of the progress made so far.
On a question raised by the Bangladesh side about the progress on signing of an agreement by the Myanmar government for engaging the UNHCR in facilitating reintegration and resettlement of Rohingyas, the Myanmar delegation said that they were ‘almost close’ to signing the deal. The meeting held amid slow pace in Myanmar government’s preparations to take back Rohingyas from the first list handed over by Bangladesh three months ago.
The return of less than 1,000 of the 8,032 Rohingyas, on the list handed over by Bangladesh authorities on February 16, was cleared by the Myanmar authorities in seven phases. About 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
The two governments signed three instruments since November 23, 2017, for return of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals sheltered in Bangladesh after October 2016, as the Rohingya exodus from Rakhine State continued.
The government also signed a memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR to facilitate voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya people.