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.

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­times.com PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

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.

A crowded refugee camp is seen near Tangkhali, Ukhiya, Bangladesh, on Septem­ber 17. Ac­cord­ing to UNHCR, about 400,000 peo­ple have fled Myan­mar. Photo: EPA

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