Rohingya repatriation to begin by midNov
Rohingya CampBangladesh and Myanmar on Tuesday agreed to begin first batch of Rohingyas repatriation by mid-November.Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque made the announcement after the third Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on the repatriation of verified Rohingyas, reports UNB.The third JWG meeting of the foreign secretary-level, held at state guesthouse Meghna in the city, was co-chaired by permanent secretary Myint Thu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and his Bangladesh counterpart senior secretary M Shahidul Haque of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.They discussed the Rohingya repatriation issue in detail as there are “intensive efforts” to begin the repatriation.The joint working group members from both the sides will visit Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday and will have interactions with Rohingyas, an official told UNB.Bangladesh on Tuesday sought updates on what steps would be taken for the safe and sustainable return of Rohingyas to their homeland Myanmar from Bangladesh.Bangladesh wants to make sure that the Rohingyas who are expected to return to Myanmar in the first batch of repatriation may have houses and other facilities to live in their own villages.”We’ve completed the village-wise verification of 8,000 Rohingyas to know who came from which village. We want to make sure they can start living in houses in their own villages,” said foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali on October 15. The foreign minister mentioned that India has built 250 houses while China is building 1,000 more.”The returnees will first stay at reception centres in Myanmar and then will go to their villages,” he added.Chinese minister and party committee secretary of the Ministry of Public Security Zhao Kezhi and his Bangladesh counterpart also discussed the Rohingya issue on Friday. The Bangladesh side sought China’s role in repatriating Rohingya people from Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar.”There’ll be a tripartite meeting among Bangladesh foreign minister (AH Mahmood Ali) and his Chinese and Myanmar counterparts where they will discuss the issue further,” said home minister Asaduzzaman Khan.But he did not elaborate when and where this meeting will be held. Similar meetings were held in New York and Beijing on the sidelines in the past months that indicate pressure on Myanmar is mounting.However, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China always believes that the international community should play a constructive role in the Rakhine State issue, and its actions should be conducive to promoting consultation and cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh.Prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the 73rd UN General Assembly made three recommendations for solving the Rohingya crisis at its root, including the abolition of discriminatory laws, policies and practices of Myanmar against the minority group.According to her second recommendation, Myanmar must create an acceptable environment by building trust and guaranteeing protection, rights and pathway to citizenship for all Rohingyas. If needed, it should create a “safe zone” inside the country to protect all civilians.Her third recommendation says atrocious crimes against Rohingyas in Myanmar should be prevented by bringing accountability and justice, particularly in the light of recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission of the UN Human Rights Council.Foreign minister Ali has emphasised the need for accelerating efforts to create a conducive environment in northern Rakhine state and build houses and villages for returnees to facilitate repatriation.Minister Ali along with joint working group members in August this year visited the northern Rakhine State and saw the ‘trail of widespread devastation’ suffered by people there, said the foreign ministry officials.The Bangladesh foreign minister also visited Shwe Zar village where around 148 prefabricated houses for returnees are being built with assistance from the government of India.Bangladesh and Myanmar formed the Joint Working Group (JWG) on December 2017 to start repatriating Rohingya refugees by January 23, 2018.In May, the Myanmar side urged the Bangladesh side to commence the repatriation of the earlier verified 778 Muslims and 444 Hindus.