Despite a repatriation agreement having been signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh in January, Myanmar has not taken back a single Rohingya refugee yet
Myanmar has asked Bangladesh to initiate the speedy repatriation of 2,223 Rohingya refugees.
This includes 1,001 people from the list of more than 8,000 Rohingyas Bangladesh sent for the beginning of the repatriation process, according to Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement Ministry Director General U Ko Ko Naing, as reported by Myanmar Times on Monday.
Following the systematic persecution and violence of the Myanmar army, over 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh last August. Later, a deal was signed in November for the repatriation of the displaced people. Bangladesh have been trying to involve the UN in helping them repatriate the Rohingyas safely and voluntarily, said Ko Ko Naing, a member of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on behalf of Naypyidaw at a meeting of the body in Dhaka last week.
Ko Ko Naing also said: “A thousand refugees from Bangladesh’s 8,000-strong list received permission to be repatriated on May 2. The majority of them are Muslim. Previously, the two countries agreed to repatriate 774 Muslims and 444 Hindus.”
The JWG member also said Myanmar is ready to begin the repatriation and insists that Bangladesh follow through.
Ko Ko Naing added that the date of the repatriation was not set yet, as it is a highly complex and difficult process even without disagreements.
The two countries shared views about safety during the repatriation process as well as maintaining a healthy environment for the process. The involvement of the United Nations agencies was also discussed, with Ko Ko Naing saying Myanmar wished to sign an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and United Nations Development Program which would hasten the repatriation process.
It is worth noting that despite a repatriation agreement having been signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh in January, Myanmar has not taken back a single Rohingya refugee yet.
Experts had expressed doubts over the matter before the agreement was signed, saying Myanmar only agreed to such a deal in the face of international pressure. Rakhine villages were burned down even after the agreement, with bulldozers covering up any remaining proof of their existence. Following this, it was said that “ideal” Buddhist villages were under construction on the sites of the former villages. Critics said that Myanmar is merely using the repatriation agreement as a ruse to deflect accusations of human rights violations.