The first list for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees who recently entered Bangladesh to escape violent persecution in Myanmar will contain 100,000 names, a government official revealed yesterday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said progress had also been made in finalizing a specific bilateral instrument for the physical arrangements involved in the return of the Rohingya.
“A database containing the names of 850,000 Rohingya refugees has already been created,” the official said.
“In the first phase, we will provide them [Myanmar] with a list of 100,000 displaced Rohingyas. Once they [Myanmar] scrutinize and send back the list, we will send the next list.”
According to the repatriation deal signed by the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23, only the Rohingyas who entered Bangladesh after 2016 will be eligible for repatriation.
The process will be carried out in multiple phases.
Discussing the physical arrangement, the insider said: “The instrument will contain details about field level activities that would be crucial for the repatriation process.”
The arrangement will also have details such as the border crossing points that will be used by the Rohingyas to return home, the camps that will be used to shelter the returning refugees, and where they will stay after returning to Myanmar.
Such issues will be discussed at the 17th meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on Rohingyas, to be chaired today by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque.
An official who attended the previous NTF meeting said Thursday’s goal is to formulate a cohesive strategy ahead of the first joint working group meeting.
He said: “As we have already signed a bilateral instrument, we must set our work plan in accordance with the deal. A joint working group has been formed and terms of reference have been set.”
Pressure mounts on Bangladesh and Myanmar
Another official involved with the Rohingya repatriation process claimed that both Bangladesh and Myanmar are under pressure regarding the repatriation of the displaced Rohingyas.
“Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the Rohingyas are part of a geopolitical chess game,” the official said.
“Bangladesh is under pressure over the fact that the Rohingya population is posing a significant threat to the country’s internal security, social structure and environment. Also, the next general election is scheduled in 2018, so the government is making a serious effort to send back as many Rohingyas as possible.
“On the other hand, Myanmar is also facing a lot of international pressure and wants to start the repatriation process to show its willingness over the issue,” the official said.
The Myanmar Army began a campaign of terror against the minority Rohingya community on August 25 this year in response to a reported militant attack on police check-posts in Northern Rakhine.
The resulting crackdown has left thousands of Rohingyas dead, and forced more than 650,000 refugees to flee to Bangladesh.
Due to similar unrest, more than 85,000 Rohingya escaped into Bangladesh in October last year. Before the recent refugee influx, Bangladesh was already harbouring around 300,000 displaced Rohingyas.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune