Myanmar authorities plan to bring back 450 Hindu Rohingya refugees in the first phase of a repatriation process that was agreed with the Bangladesh side last week, reports Myanmar state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar.
The neighbouring countries formed a joint working group (JWG) on December 19 to start repatriating Rohingya refugees by January 23 next year.
“Arrangements are being made to accept them [Rohingya refugees] as of January 22, 2018. Initially a group of 450 Hindus are to be accepted,” Myanmar Union Minister for Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement, Win Myat Aye said during a meeting with the Chairman of Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission, U Win Mra.
The commission organized the meeting to learn about Myanmar government’s steps in this regard.
During the meeting, chairman U Win Mra informed Minister Win Myat Aye that the commission, during a field trip in Rakhine state from December 11-15, found government preparation to develop establishments less than satisfactory for the incoming Rohingya people from Bangladesh, who fled the country following a military crackdown that has been dubbed as "ethnic cleansing" by the United Nations and United States.
In the meeting, the commission chairman said: “Due to lack of knowledge about the situations found out on the ground during the trip headed by U Yu Lwin, member of the MNHRC [human rights commission] and party to Maungtaw region in Rakhine State from December 11 to 15 and news and information concerning the performances carried out by the Government, there were anxieties about the displaced people among those from outside the country. At the time when the commission reached there, arrangements for the displaced Muslim families in the country, Rakhine nationals and national ethnic minorities had clearly been found, with the arrangements for accepting those who would arrive back from Bangladesh found to have not yet been ready.”
The union minister replied: “Developments had been made as regards the preparations for the resettlement and rehabilitation. Those who will enter will stay in temporary camp for one or two days. After that, as for those who already had their own houses, they can go directly to their houses. As for those whose houses were burnt down in the attacks, they must stay temporarily in the 8-room-house barracks.”
“During the stay the new arrivals can make money by working in construction sites under the plan ‘Cash for Work’. Co-operations are being made in combination with respective ministries, donor companies and members of regions and states for accepting the arrivals in time.”
Myanmar's military cracked down on Rohingya from Rakhine state following rebel attacks on an army base and police posts on August 25. More than 655,000 Rohingya have fled mainly Buddhist Myanmar to Bangladesh since August, on top of more than 200,000 who fled earlier, according to latest United Nations data.