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Rohingya return

Hopes high as BD, Myanmar, China meet on Jan 19

FE REPORT | January 14, 2021 00:00:00

Despite repeated requests, Myanmar has so far showed sheer reluctance to verify the Rohingya refugees listed by Bangladesh and send to the neighbouring country for their peaceful repatriation, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Wednesday.

Myanmar has so far verified only 5.0 per cent of the refugees.

"The lists of around 830,000 Rohingya refugees were sent to them in phases, but so far they have verified only 42,000 people," he said, expressing frustration while talking to a group of newsmen in the city.

"They are very slow. There is a sheer lack of sincerity among them."

The minister was, however, expecting a breakthrough in the tripartite meeting of China, Bangladesh and Myanmar which is scheduled to be held in Dhaka on January 19.

Earlier scheduled for last week, the meeting was later deferred as the Chinese foreign minister was on a visit to Myanmar. So, Dr Momen said, Myanmar wanted to hold the meeting after the visit.

China had initiated the tripartite arrangement two years ago to resolve the Rohingya issue and several meetings were also held since then. But the repatriation is yet to be started as Myanmar failed to assure the Rohingya refugees of their safety and dignity.

The foreign minister also said that in many previous meetings, Myanmar only listened to Bangladesh's proposals and arguments without giving any response.

"The Myanmar delegation used to tell us that they would give their reply after returning home," said the minister, explaining the way how Myanmar had slowed down the repatriation process previously.

In the last tripartite meeting held in January 2020, the Myanmar delegation said that they would prepare a booklet showing different steps taken by them for Rohingyas in the Rakhine State. But negotiation on the repatriation was stalled due to the outbreak of Covid pandemic.

The foreign minister said that voluntary and dignified repatriation to Myanmar is the only solution to the Rohingya crisis. "There is no other option."

In 1992, over 0.23 million Rohingya refugees were repatriated through discussion and the government is also hopeful this time about repatriation of the Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh after 2017, he added.

Around one million Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar since 2017, following a brutal crackdown against them by the Myanmar security forces in the Rakhine State.

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