• Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019
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Rohingya repatriation: Bangladesh asks Myanmar to come up with ‘package’

  • Published at 08:25 pm June 16th, 2019
WEB_Rohingya_Syed Zakir Hossain
Bangladesh is currently sheltering over 1.2 million Rohingyas in a number of refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

It’s Myanmar’s responsibility to create a conducive environment in Rakhine and to convince Rohingyas in Bangladesh to return to their homes, annoyed Dhaka tells unwilling Naypyitaw

An apparently annoyed Bangladesh has asked Myanmar to come up with a ‘package’ to ensure the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, who had to cross into Cox’s Bazar to escape persecution in Rakhine.

The ‘package’ sought by Bangladesh mainly includes the creation of a favourable situation in Rakhine, convincing the persecuted people sheltered in Cox’s Bazar to return to their homes, and easing the verification process, senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

“We have really had enough of Myanmar’s hide and seek game. We’re not going to them until they come up with a package that will ensure the dignified, safe, and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas,” said a senior official.

“We have made our feelings known very clearly,” said the official, reminding that in accordance with the bilateral arrangement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar in Naypyitaw on November 23, 2017, repatriation should have begun by January 22, 2018, and completed within two years.

“But, nothing happened due to the sheer unwillingness of the Myanmar government. We do not think we can take this anymore,” he said.

Elaborating on the package, another senior official said: “We have asked Myanmar to create a conducive environment in Rakhine for the Rohingyas to return and live safely and peacefully. We have also asked them to send a team to engage with Rohingyas in the settlements to convince them to return. The Myanmar side has also been asked to simplify the verification forms that need to be filled up by the Rohingyas who want to return.”

“It is the responsibility of Myanmar to create a conducive environment and convince its own people to return to their homes in Rakhine,” he said.  

“Let’s see what Myanmar does. The problem with our second neighbour is that they change their goalposts quickly. It is extremely difficult to deal with such a neighbour. But we have no choice but to keep engaged with them as well as with the international community,” he added.

Expressing his annoyance with Myanmar’s foot-dragging in the repatriation process, another official hinted that from now on Bangladesh would place greater emphasis on persuading the international community, especially China, Russia and India, to exert more pressure on Naypyitaw to take the Rohingyas back.

“Many in the government tend to believe that bilateralism has not been very effective so far, which is evidenced by the slow progress,” he said.

To a question, the officials said that all these issues were discussed at the fourth meeting of the joint working group (JWG) in Naypyitaw on May 3 and the Myanmar side sounded positive about them then.

But they said, as usual, there have been no visible measures taken by the Myanmar government and Naypyitaw did not get back to Dhaka about sending a team to engage with the Rohingyas in the settlements to assure them of safety in Rakhine.