Dhaka for int’l engagement in Rohingya return

Foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali holds a meeting with diplomats in his office to discuss the Rohingya issue on Sunday. — New Age photo

Bangladesh on Sunday urged the international community to continue their engagement with Myanmar for effective implementation of the arrangements signed by the two countries for repatriation of Rohingyas.
Foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali on Sunday made the call to diplomats in a briefing on the recent developments over the return of displaced Rohingyas to their homeland in Myanmar through bilateral arrangements signed between the two countries.
He told reporters, after the briefing, that the government would sign a memorandum of understating with the UN Refugee Agency for engaging the organisation in repatriation of the forcibly displaced minority Myanmar nationals to Rakhine State.
‘We will engage the UNHCR in the process. They have forwarded a draft of a memorandum of understanding…There will be an agreement between Bangladesh [government] and the UNHCR,’ he told journalists in the capital.
Asked about Myanmar’s claim that the country would process the repatriation on Tuesday, Ali said, ‘The process has begun. But it is difficult to say when the actual repatriation will begin.’
Referring to the arrangement of return and the subsequent agreements relating to formation of joint working group and the physical arrangement of return, Ali mentioned that Bangladesh put its best efforts to ensure that the agreements facilitate safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return.
In this regard, he referred to various provisions of the agreements, such as, Myanmar’s commitment to implement the report of the Kofi Annan Commission, non-discrimination and respect for international human rights instruments vis-à-vis the returnees, and engagement of international community in the resettlement of Rohingyas in the Rakhine State.
In order to ensure that the return was voluntary, Bangladesh incorporated provisions for involvement of the UNHCR and other relevant international organisations in the entire return process, he said.
Ali mentioned that Bangladesh tried to create space for international actors, including the European Union, in every phase of the return, resettlement and reintegration.
In this regard, he referred to the initiatives of India, China and Japan in developing resettlement facilities in the Rakhine State and encouraged the international community to offer similar helps to Myanmar.
The minister said preparations were on to make lists of Rohingyas with keeping family as a unit.
Replying to a question about reports and pictures published in Myanmar military-controlled newspapers describing conditions of transit camps, Ali said Myanmar agreed to keep Rohingyas in transit camps for a brief period.
Ambassadors, high commissioners and representatives of 52 missions including the USA, the UK, the KSA, India, China, Japan, Qatar and the EU etc engaged in an interactive discussion with the foreign minister during the briefing session on the practical questions related to sustainable return.
UN ambassador Marcia Bernicat told reporters after the briefing that conditions [in Rakhine State] ‘have to be in place’ and acceptable.
Replying to a question if the situation was normal in Rakhine, Indian high commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the point ‘is that you have to work with all concerns to create the situation that is necessary. There is no point saying that situation is not correct so no one should go back.’
Diplomats committed to continued support towards achieving sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.
The arrangements signed by Bangladesh and Myanmar involve the repatriation of over 7,40,000 Rohingyas who fled violence in Rakhine and crossed the border since October 2016.
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque and other senior officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also present during the briefing.
Over 6,55,500 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing, between August 25, 2017 and January 14, 2018.
Several international authorities denounced the operations as textbook example of ethnic cleansing and genocide, according to estimates by UN agencies.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the total number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 10,74,000 till January 14 over four decades, according to Bangladesh authorities.

Source: New Age.

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