The delegates will visit Cox’s Bazar on Saturday to try and convince the Rohingyas to return home
A team of high-level delegates from Myanmar will visit Cox’s Bazar on Saturday where they will interact with the Rohingya refugees and try to convince them to return to their homes in Rakhine, government officials concerned told Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.
The 15-member delegation, led by the permanent secretary of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bangladesh foreign secretary counterpart, will arrive in Dhaka on Friday on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, the officials said.
They will spend Saturday night in the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar, which is hosting more than a million Rohingya refugees forced to cross over to Bangladesh to flee unprecedented atrocities orchestrated by Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs, and people from other ethnic groups.
In Cox’s Bazar, the Myanmar delegates are expected to project the prevailing situation in Rakhine and convince the Rohingyas to return home, the officials said.
“This is the only objective of the team,” said a senior official, requesting not to be named.
In answering a question, the official said: “I really don’t know if the Rohingyas will be convinced or not. I wish I knew.”
He continued: “My understanding is that the Myanmar team will try to explain [to the Rohingyas] that the situation in Rakhine has improved, and it is now safe for the Rohingyas to return home.”
About the outcome of the Myanmar delegation’s visit to Bangladesh, another senior Bangladeshi official said: “We don’t have any choice but to hope for the best. But you should remember that when you deal with a country like Myanmar, nothing can be said. Let’s see what happens.”
The official further said: “We are ready to begin the repatriation any time. It is up to Myanmar to create a conducive environment so the Rohingyas can return home safely, with dignity. We don’t want a repeat of November 15, 2018, when the repatriation attempt failed.”
According to a deal signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar in November 2017, the repatriation was supposed to begin within two months of the inking of the bilateral instruments. But due to the non-cooperation and unwillingness of the Myanmar government, it did not happen.
Some Rohingyas have already told this correspondent that they would only return in a situation verified by the international community, as they do not trust the Myanmar government.
Apart from visiting Cox’s Bazar, the team will have a meeting with the foreign secretary in charge in Bangladesh on Sunday, as Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will be out of the country at that time, the officials said.