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Rohingya repatriation: High-level Myanmar team due in Cox’s Bazar Saturday

  • Published at 11:31 pm July 26th, 2019
web-makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar
This photo taken recently shows a makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Govt officials cautiously optimistic, Rohingyas not so much

Amidst cautious optimism of the government officials and pacifism of the Rohingyas, a high-level Myanmar delegation is due to arrive in Cox’s Bazar on Saturday to interact with the persecuted people, who had to flee their homes in Rakhine to escape the brutalities of the security forces and Buddhist mobs.

The interaction is intended to persuade hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to return to their homes in Rakhine.

This is the first ever team that is coming from Myanmar to interact with the Rohingyas directly to convince them to return home. This visit is being possible due to persistent efforts from Bangladesh.

“The only objective of the team’s visit is to directly interact with the selected representatives of the Rohingya community living in Cox’s Bazar," a senior Foreign Ministry official told Dhaka Tribune last night.

“There will be nothing like public meeting,” he added.

Replying to a question, he said: “We will have to remain engaged with Myanmar. So, we have to be hopeful.

“We are always hopeful. We have no choice, but to be hopeful. We will have to keep on trying,” said another official.

“We’re ready to begin the repatriation anytime. It is up to Myanmar to create conducive environment to allow the Rohingyas to go back to their homes,” said Abul Kalam, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner based in Cox’s Bazar.

Although, the government officials have expressed cautious optimism, the tone of Rohingyas did not appear to be anything near to it.

Several Rohingyas have told this correspondent unequivocally that they do not intend to return without an international monitoring system in place and they fear that the government of Myanmar will never allow international monitoring.

They also emphasized that all rights that a citizen enjoys must be guaranteed.

The 15-member delegation

The 15-member delegation, led by Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, equivalent to Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary, is scheduled to travel to Cox’s Bazar this morning if the weather permits. 

It has been raining in the coastal town for last few days. The members of the delegation are to spend tonight in Cox’s Bazar, which is hosting more than a million Rohingyas.

While in Cox’s Bazar, the members of the team are expected to project a favourable situation in Rakhine and convince the Rohingyas to return to their homes, said the officials.

Replying to a question, they said that they really do not know if the Rohingyas will be convinced or not.

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 non-cooperation and unwillingness of the Myanmar government it did not happen.

Apart from visiting Cox’s Bazar, the team will hold a meeting with the Foreign Secretary-in charge tomorrow, as Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will be out of the country at that time, said the officials.