Refugee repatriation gains momentum
A government delegation is expected to visit Bangladesh soon to work out plans to bring back refugees who fled to that country after violence erupted in Rakhine on August 25.
A GOVERNMENT delegation to be led by Minister of State Counsellor Office U Kyaw Tint Swe is going to Bangladesh within the week to discuss the repatriation of refugees who fled Rakhine State following an upsurge of violence there, a senior official said on Thursday.
“We don’t know exactly the date. But they will go within next day or two,” Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Dr Win Myat Aye told The Myanmar Times.
He said among the prioritized plans in the recommendations for the Rakhine state of the Advisory Commission and the Maungdaw Investigation Commission, was carrying out the repatriation of thousands of Muslim refugees as fast as possible based on the 1993 Myanmar-bangladesh agreement.
According to the 1993 Joint Statement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Myanmar agreed to take measures to halt the outflow of refugees to Bangladesh, and to accept, after scrutiny, all ‘those carrying Myanmar identity cards’, ‘those able to present other documents issued by relevant Myanmar authorities’ and ‘all those able to furnish evidence of their residence in Myanmar’ and ‘all those willing to return to Myanmar’.
“The repatriation would begin after an agreement is reached during the discussion between two countries,” said Dr Win Myat Aye.
According to the Implementing Committee for Recommendations of Rakhine State, it has designated two places to receive the refugees, the Taungpyoletwea and Ngakhuya villages.
The Committee said the refugees who would be repatriated from land route will be received at Taungpyoletwea village and those passing through the rivers will able to be received at Ngakhuya village.
The Implementing Committee for Recommendations of Rakhine State held its 3rd meeting on Wednesday and estimated to spend K2 billion for repatriation process and the planned resettlement of the refugees at Dar gyizar village, about 20 km from Maungdaw township.
“There are many things to negotiate with regards to security situation before repatriation,” said committee chairman Dr Win Myat Aye.
According to the UNHCR, more than 430,000 Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since the fighting began between the government security forces and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which was labelled as a terrorist group by the government.
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on Myanmar to take back the Muslim refugees.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Saturday the need “to seek advice of Un-habitat so as to include sustainable development aspects in the resettlement program for the affected community” with regards of repatriation.
She said rehabilitation and resettlement programmes should not only be for the Muslims but for Rakhines, and other minorities, including Hindus, who fled their homes due to the August 25 attacks of ARSA terrorists on government security forces’ outposts.
According to the government Information Committee, there were also many Hindu people who fled to Bangladesh in the aftermath of the attack.
A month after the terrorist attacks, Myanmar authorities have discovered a mass grave containing bodies of 45 Hindu people, including women and children.
Authorities are still searching for more Hindu people who were victims of the violence allegedly perpetrated by the ARSA terrorists.
U Ni Mal, a Hindu community leader said some 100 Hindu people were killed and about 500 Hindu people have fled to Bangladesh since the fighting began between the ARSA terrorist group and government security forces.
“We will repatriate all of refugees whose identity we can verify based on the 1993 agreement” said Dr Win Myat Aye.