Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | ePaper

Repatriation very difficult

Rohingya talks in progress: FS

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M M Jasim :
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque on Thursday said, there is a positive progress in Rohingya repatriation talks, but he sees repatriation process a very complex and difficult.    
 "We laid emphasis on quick Rohingya repatriation and creating a conducive environment in Rakhine during the meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG). But this kind of repatriation is very complex and difficult. However, both sides have realised the need for repatriation as early as possible," he said.
The foreign secretary said this after the second meeting of the JWG at state guesthouse Meghna in the afternoon.
The meeting was organised with a view to reviewing the progress of the repatriation of some 800,000 Rohingyas, who fled atrocities in Myanmar's Rakhine State since October 2016.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and Myanmar Permanent   Secretary Myint Thu led their respective sides at the meeting, consisting of 15 officials each.
 "We don't have any disagreement over it. We discussed all the issues related to Rohingya repatriation," the Foreign Secretary said.
He said both sides are trying to work together to make sure that repatriation process gets expedited.
 "We raised all issues. We wanted to know what they are doing in Rakhine State for the smooth return of Rohingyas," a senior official said who attended the meeting.
He said the Myanmar side could not give any satisfactory reply on many issues Bangladesh side raised.
Responding to a question, the official said Myanmar could not complete verification of first list. 'So, there's no hurry to place second list. I don't know how much time they will take to verify others mentioned in the first list.'
The joint working group, dedicated to overseeing the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar, sat in meeting again after the lunch to identify ways for expediting the verification and repatriation process of Rohingyas.
Officials said Bangladesh handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar on February 16 to start the first phase of repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland in Rakhine state.
Myanmar has so far verified less than 900 Rohingyas out of 8,032 names of Rohingyas after verification in several steps, an official said. Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on November 23, 2017. On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on 'Physical Arrangement' which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.
The 'Physical Arrangement' stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.
Bangladesh currently has a Rohingya population, which is far more than Bhutan's entire population.
Bhutan has around 800,000 people whereas Bangladesh had to give shelter to some  12,00,000 Rohingyas.
Meanwhile, the UN says the conditions in Rakhine are not conducive to a safe, dignified and sustainable return of the refugees. The Rohingyas are also of the same opinion. They want that their citizenship is granted, their security in Rakhine ensured under UN presence and their land is returned.
Security Council members, who visited Bangladesh and Myanmar from April 28 to May 2, urged Myanmar to step up its efforts to create conditions conducive to safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingyas and internally displaced people (in camps) to their homes in Rakhine.
They also called upon Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis by implementing Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations, including those related to human rights, citizenship, poverty alleviation and development, the UNSC said in a statement on May 9.

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