Rakhine refugee repatriation may start by mid-November
THE repatriation of refugees who fled from Rakhine State to Bangladesh may start in mid-November, according to a Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs official.
U Aung Kyaw Zan, deputy permanent secretary of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that Myanmar and Bangladesh officials met for the third time in Dhaka on Monday to discuss ways to expedite the repatriation, though the outcome of the talks were not announced.
The meeting was co-chaired by Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs U Myint Thu and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Senior Secretary of Foreign Affairs M Shahidul Haque.
According to the Bangladeshi official, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to repatriate the first group of refugees by mid-November.
Over 700,000 refugees have fled from northern Rakhine to Bangladesh since the Tatmadaw (military) launched a brutal crackdown in response to deadly attacks on security outposts in the area by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in August last year.
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed the Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State last November. One of the provisions of the agreement is that action will not be taken against the returnees except in cases that involve terrorism.
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said last week that Bangladesh hopes the first batch of 8000 refugees will be able to return to Rakhine soon.
The Myanmar government said that more than 5000 of the over 8000 names submitted for repatriation by Bangladesh have been verified as citizens. U Aung Kyaw Zan said Myanmar would not repatriate unverified refugees.
Myanmar has urged Bangladesh to start repatriating 2223 refugees verified earlier, according to the Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Ministry.