Fresh bid to repatriate 3,450 Rohingyas Aug 22
Myanmar and Bangladesh are set to start another attempt on August 22 to repatriate 3,450 of Rohingyas.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Dhaka told the media on Friday that the Bangladesh government has asked for its help in verifying the 3,450 people who signed up for voluntary repatriation.
Bangladesh's Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam said the identities of the refugees have been confirmed by Myanmar and now they could go back there if they want.
In July 29, Bangladesh has handed over a fresh list of 25,000 Rohingyas to Myanmar for verification as the repatriation process lingers. During a meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh's acting foreign secretary handed over the list to Myanmar's Foreign Secretary Mint Thu. With the new list, Bangladesh has so far handed over names of around 55,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities following singing the deal two years back soon after the massive exodus in August 2017.
However, Delowar Hossain, Director General (Southeast Asia) of the Foreign Ministry, told media, "There is a possibility [of repatriation]. But it's not confirmed yet."
Following Dhaka meeting, Myint Thu, a spokesman of Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Reuters (on Thursday) "We have agreed to the repatriation of 3,540 people on August 22."
Our Cox's Bazar correspondent said the government had ordered local officials in Cox's Bazar district to locate those on the list in the four refugee camps there, but their repatriation would only happen if they actually want to return voluntarily.
"We are working as per the list, but I can't tell you if they will go back," an official said.
He said Bangladesh was always ready to provide support to any refugees who wish to return home, but also would not use force to make them go back.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Rohingya refugee community in the camps said they had not been consulted on the matter and were unaware of plans for any imminent return.
Rohingyas' first demand is citizenship, and second is freedom of movement and freedom of economic activities and returning back to the place from where they were uprooted.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them came since August 25, 2017.
Both sides signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017. On January 16, 2018 Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on "Physical Arrangement" to facilitate the return. It stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start.
The first batch of return was scheduled to begin on November 15 last year but none was willing to return due to lack of congenial environment in Rakhine.
In July, Myanmar officials went to the camps in Bangladesh to talk to the refugees about their plans and preparations to bring them back, the latest of several similar visits. So far, most refugees appear to distrust the promises and believe it is too dangerous to return.