Rohingya repatriation process should not be failed
BANGLADESH and Myanmar are set to start a repatriation process on August 22 of the most persecuted Rohingyas who fled violence-torn Rakhine State in 2017. The move follows Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent visit to Myanmar's key allies China and Japan that want a bilateral solution to the crisis. We hope the repatriation process, after a long silence, must be started without wasting any time. Meanwhile, the crises have also been deepening for unnecessary lingering the stay of Myanmar nationals in the soil of Bangladesh.
On July 30, Bangladesh handed a list of 25,000 Rohingyas of 6,000 families to a visiting Myanmar delegation. Dhaka earlier handed a list of some 30,000 Rohingyas for verification of their identity, but only 8,000 of them were verified. What's most significant is that, repatriation process could not begin as scheduled on November 15 last year while the refugees refused to go their motherland. The attempts failed due to opposition from refugees as uncertainty raised over their status, citizenship and rights protection in Myanmar. The refugees say they want to return to Myanmar, but they demanded guarantee of citizenship along with establishing UN-backed safe zone in Rakhine. They also demanded recognition of their ethnicity as Rohingyas and assurance to return to the same place from where they were driven out.
It is anticipated that the first group of refugees are likely to return to Myanmar next week. Foreign Ministry said that there is a possibility of repatriation, but it's not confirmed yet. On the other hand, the UN has said conditions in Rakhine State, where government troops have been fighting an insurgency for months, are not conducive for the return of refugees. The region has been enveloped in a new war, with government troops fighting Arakan Army insurgents, members of an ethnic armed group that recruits from the mostly Buddhist Rakhine, who make up the majority in the area.
Recent satellite images showed no signs of reconstruction in the overwhelming majority of former Rohingya settlements, while destruction of homes continued. So, there is huge confusion over the success of repatriation of Rohingyas to their ancestral land. We must say Dhaka and Naypyidaw should not let the attempt failed.