Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

B’desh, Myan­mar to com­plete re­turn of Ro­hingya in two years

Dhaka says Naypy­itaw has re­it­er­ated its com­mit­ment to stop the out­flow of Myan­mar res­i­dents

- Reuters n let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

DHAKA/COX’SBAZAAR: Bangladesh said on Tues­day it would com­plete the process of re­turn­ing within two years many of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya Mus­lims who had fled a con­flict in Myan­mar, fol­low­ing a meet­ing of the neigh­bours.

The bi­lat­eral repa­tri­a­tion plan, which Myan­mar said would be­gin next Tues­day, was greeted with some scep­ti­cism from NGOs, who said it did not ad­e­quately ad­dress ques­tions of safety, liveli­hoods and per­ma­nent re­set­tle­ment.

A state­ment by the Bangladesh for­eign min­istry said the re­turn ef­fort en­vis­ages “con­sid­er­ing the fam­ily as a unit,” with Myan­mar pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary shel­ter for those re­turn­ing be­fore re­build­ing houses for them.

Bangladesh would set up five tran­sit camps to send Ro­hingyas to two re­cep­tion cen­tres on the Myan­mar side of the border, the state­ment said.

“Myan­mar has re­it­er­ated its com­mit­ment to stop (the) out­flow of Myan­mar res­i­dents to Bangladesh,” it said. The state­ment also called for repa­tri­at­ing or­phans and “chil­dren born out of un­war­ranted in­ci­dence”, a ref­er­ence to cases of rape re­sult­ing in preg­nancy, a Bangladesh for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial said.

The rape of Ro­hingya women by Myan­mar’s se­cu­rity forces was wide­spread, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­views with women con­ducted at dis­place­ment camps by UN medics and ac­tivists. The mil­i­tary de­nies it was in­volved in any sex­ual as­saults.

The cri­sis erupted af­ter Ro­hingya in­sur­gent at­tacks on se­cu­rity posts on Au­gust 25 in the west­ern state of Rakhine trig­gered a fierce mil­i­tary re­sponse that the UN de­nounced as eth­nic cleans­ing. Some 650,000 peo­ple fled the vi­o­lence. The mil­i­tary de­nies eth­nic cleans­ing, say­ing its se­cu­rity forces had mounted le­git­i­mate counter-in­sur­gency clear­ance op­er­a­tions.

The meet­ing in Naypy­itaw was the first for a joint work­ing group set up to ham­mer out the de­tails of the Novem­ber repa­tri­a­tion agree­ment.

The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment did not im­me­di­ately is­sue its own state­ment af­ter the meet­ing con­cluded on Tues­day.

Ko Ko Naing, di­rec­tor gen­eral of Myan­mar’s Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment Depart­ment in the min­istry of so­cial wel­fare, told Reuters by tele­phone that Myan­mar had signed the agree­ment with Bangladesh and aimed to start the process by Jan­uary 23.

Myan­mar gov­ern­ment spokesman Zaw Htay told Reuters last week the re­turnees could ap­ply for cit­i­zen­ship “af­ter they pass the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process”.

A Myan­mar agency set up to over­see repa­tri­a­tion said last week two tem­po­rary “repa­tri­a­tion and as­sess­ment camps” and one other site had been set up to ac­com­mo­date re­turnees.

Myint Kyaing, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary at Myan­mar’s min­istry of labour, im­mi­gra­tion and pop­u­la­tion had ear­lier said Myan­mar would be­gin pro­cess­ing at least 150 peo­ple a day through each of the two camps by Jan­uary 23.

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