Abdul Aziz, Cox’s Bazar::
The meeting also discussed security and other issues centring the Rohingyas
In their second attempt, Bangladesh and Myanmar are all set to repatriate a selected batch of Rohingyas to their homeland, who are among over 1.1 Rohingyas currently sheltered at cramped refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
“Bangladesh is fully prepared to initiate the repatriation process, and the relevant tasks, and last moment preparations are being completed,” said Chittagong’s Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Alam Nezami after the meeting of a task-force committee in Cox’s Bazar yesterday.
The meeting also discussed security and other issues centring the Rohingyas, more than 700,000 of whom fled brutal persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and took shelter in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017.
Nurul, who heads the taskforce, said that they have completed all the preparations to kick off the repatriation process on August 22. “If everything remains on track, the process may continue further.”
The meeting was held at the office of the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation (RRR) commissioner in Cox’s Bazar yesterday afternoon. RRR Commissioner Md Abul Kalam, the district’s Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain, SP ABM Masud Hossain, the representatives of Bangladesh Army, and UNHCR were also present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque yesterday hoped that the Rohingya repatriation process will begin on a small scale anytime soon, reports Xinhua.
According to a recent Reuters report, a total of 3,540 refugees have already been cleared by Myanmar for return from a list of more than 22,000 names sent by Bangladesh authorities.
The first group of refugees would return to Myanmar next week, providing they agree to go back, nearly a year after a major attempt failed, read the report.
Repatriation process at a glance
On August 25, 2017, Myanmar security forces, aided by local Buddhist mobs, and people from different ethnic groups, launched a brutal crackdown on the Rohingyas, forcing hundreds of thousands to cross into Cox’s Bazar.
Since then, which many including the United Nations say amounts to genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crime against humanity, more than 730,000 Rohingyas took shelter in the coastal district.
They were given shelter at different refugee camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya alongside the 400,000 Rohingyas who crossed over before them, fleeing persecution in the past years, causing a number of socioeconomic problems for the host community.
High profile delegations from Myanmar and Bangladesh have held several meetings with each other in both countries since the crackdown began, and a repatriation agreement was signed in Naypyidaw on March 23.
According to the deal, repatriation should have begun within two months of signing of the instrument.
Following a series of painstaking discussions between a proactive Bangladesh, and an unwilling Myanmar, the two countries attempted to begin repatriation on November 15 last year, but the effort failed due to the unwillingness of the Rohingyas, and objections from the international community.
The refugees maintain that there is no guarantee yet that Myanmar will ensure their dignified return, and establish their identity as Myanmar nationals.
Since that failed attempt, there has been no development in the repatriation process.