UN to take part in repa­tri­a­tion: Bangladesh

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS ROUNDUPS -

Bangladesh has signed a deal to in­volve the United Na­tions in the con­tro­ver­sial process of re­turn­ing Ro­hingya refugees to Myan­mar, a min­is­ter said 12 Fe­bru­ary.

Ju­nior for­eign min­is­ter Shahriar Alam said the gov­ern­ment was in­volv­ing the UN refugee agency so that it could not be ac­cused of send­ing any­one from the state­less Muslim mi­nor­ity back against their will.

He gave few de­tails, but said refugees would be asked to fill out repa­tri­a­tion forms in the pres­ence of UN of­fi­cials. Bangladesh reached a deal with Myan­mar late last year to repa­tri­ate the nearly 700,000 Ro­hingya who have fled across the bor­der since Au­gust to es­cape a mil­i­tary crack­down.

That was meant to start last month, but was de­layed by a lack of prepa­ra­tions and protests by Ro­hingya refugees, most of whom say they do not wish to re­turn with­out guar­an­tees of safety.

"We have re­peat­edly said this repa­tri­a­tion process is very com­plex," Alam told re­porters.

"We want to fill up the (repa­tri­a­tion) forms in their (UN) pres­ence so that no one can say they been forced by some­one or sent back against their will," he told re­porters at a Ro­hingya refugee camp in Bangladesh's south­east­ern bor­der district of Cox's Bazar.

There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from the UN, which has said pre­vi­ously that any repa­tri­a­tion must be vol­un­tary.

Alam urged pa­tience and said Bangladesh did not want to send back the refugees only to have them re­turn, as has hap­pened af­ter past rounds of repa­tri­a­tion.

Bangladesh "wants to make sure the si­t­u­a­tion in Myan­mar is safe and se­cure", he said.

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