ASEAN hu­man­i­tar­ian team vis­its Rakhine

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­[email protected]­

Two of­fi­cials of the ASEAN Co­or­di­nat­ing Cen­tre for Hu­man­i­tar­ian As­sis­tance on Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment is cur­rently on a three-day visit to north­ern Rakhine State.

OF­FI­CIALS from the ASEAN Co­or­di­nat­ing Cen­tre for Hu­man­i­tar­ian As­sis­tance on Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment (AHA Cen­tre) visited north­ern Rakhine State on Tues­day to check on the prepa­ra­tions by the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment for refugee repa­tri­a­tion.

Myan­mar is a mem­ber of the 10-coun­try re­gional group­ing.

U Soe Aung, deputy min­is­ter of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment, said the two of­fi­cials were able to see for them­selves the gov­ern­ment’s prepa­ra­tions to re­ceive the Mus­lim refugees, who have been liv­ing in cramped camps in Bangladesh since flee­ing their homes amid re­newed vi­o­lence last year.

He added that they ar­rived in Myan­mar on Fri­day and held three days of pre­lim­i­nary co­or­di­na­tion meet­ings with of­fi­cials from the min­istry’s Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Depart­ment on the prepa­ra­tions for the repa­tri­a­tion.

“They want to help in re­ceiv­ing the re­turnees. How­ever, the repa­tri­a­tion de­pends on Bangladesh. We are ready for the repa­tri­a­tion,” U Soe Aung said.

Ac­cord­ing to the For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry, while in north­ern Rakhine, the of­fi­cials will visit Nga Khu Ya and Taung Pyo Lat Wae re­cep­tion cen­tres and the tran­sit camp and tem­po­rary re­set­tle­ment area in Hla Phoe Khaung.

Dur­ing the 33rd ASEAN Sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore ear­lier this month, the bloc’s chair­man said in a state­ment that the lead­ers of the group sup­port Myan­mar’s repa­tri­a­tion process and wel­comed the in­vi­ta­tion it ex­tended to the AHA Cen­tre to send a team to iden­tify pos­si­ble ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion in Rakhine to fa­cil­i­tate the repa­tri­a­tion.

Myan­mar and Bangladesh signed the Ar­range­ment on Re­turn of Dis­placed Per­sons from Rakhine State in Novem­ber 2017 and agreed to repa­tri­ate a first batch of over 2000 refugees on Novem­ber 15. How­ever, the refugees re­fused to re­turn, say­ing they first wanted guar­an­tees of se­cu­rity and cit­i­zen­ship rights.

Ac­cord­ing to U Win Myat Aye, chair of the Com­mit­tee on Repa­tri­a­tion and Re­set­tle­ment of Refugees from Rakhine State, said the repa­tri­a­tion might re­sume next year af­ter Bangladesh’s gen­eral elec­tion.

He added that it needs to be car­ried out sys­tem­at­i­cally by the Bangladesh gov­ern­ment in line with the agree­ment.

Photo: EPA

Refugees from north­ern Rakhine State walk on a road at a makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in Au­gust.

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