China to help Bangladesh repatriate Rohingya refugees

Beijing has already constructed about 3,000 houses in Myanmar's Rakhine state, says Momen

China pledged on Sunday to support Bangladesh in repatriating thousands of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen discussed the issue with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Dhaka.

More than a million Rohingya Muslim refugees live in camps in Bangladesh, having fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, mostly in 2017.

'Bangladesh needs support from China'

Beijing has already constructed about 3,000 houses in Myanmar's Rakhine state, for prospective Rohingya returnees, Momen said.

He added that China "will also arrange initial food support" for the repatriated refugees.  "We must thank China that they agreed to do that," the foreign minister said.

Analyst Munshi Faiz Ahmad, who served as Bangladeshi ambassador in Beijing, told the Associated Press that to "resolve the Rohingya crisis Bangladesh needs support from China."

Refugees fear going back

China had earlier brokered an agreement with Myanmar in November 2017 to repatriate about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims. And again, efforts were made in 2019 twice to return the refugees.

But these attempts failed as the Rohingya refugees rejected the move fearing a reemergence of the violence that forced them to flee. These fears have only been exacerbated by the military coup in Myanmar last year.

Bangladesh is attempting to catalogue the identity of the refugees. It has sent biometric data of more than 800,000 refugees living in the camps located in the south-eastern district of Cox's Bazar to Myanmar, officials said.