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Talks with Myanmar on return of Rohingyas likely in March

Published : Sunday, 26 January, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 241

The fifth round of negotiation between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the repatriation of Rohingyas is likely to start in March.
"We have sent a letter to the Myanmar's ministry concerned to start talks as soon as possible. We are waiting for the nod of the Myanmar government in this regard," a senior official of the Foreign Ministry told the Daily Observer on Saturday.
The Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start talks on Rohingya issues following the verdict of the International Court for Justice (ICJ) on January 23.
"I would say that our approach has always been and will always continue to be to offer a negotiating space. So it is the responsibility of the authorities (Myanmar) to find solutions and again the international community has indicated some of the solutions," the official said.
"If Myanmar agrees to sit then they will discuss about the venue," the official said without elaborating.
In 1978, 1991, 1996, 2016 and 2017, Bangladesh gave shelter to Rohingyas from Myanmar. In the four previous meetings, both the parties did not discuss about 4 lakh Rohingyas (the then number of Rohingyas) who were displaced in 1978, 1991 and 1996. However, both parties are now negotiating only on those Rohingyas who entered Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has handed over a list of 8,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar government in February, 2019. Myanmar takes 8 months to verify the list and handed over a list of 4,600 Rohingyas to Bangladesh.
"Myanmar Officials claimed that they had scrutinized the list 19 times and handed over a list of 4,600 Rohingyas who have proper documents with them to probe their nationality. However, they are not agreed to take back the other people," a senior official at the Foreign Ministry said.
In 2018, Myanmar and Bangladesh have formed a 30-member Joint Working Group (JWG) that will oversee the repatriation of the Rohingya, but it takes a snail's pace ever.
Although the repatriation process was supposed to start from February 21, 2019, but that could not be started as Myanmar authorities once again failed to build confidence in the forcibly displaced Rohingyas for returning to Rakhine state.
In September 2019, a tri-party initiative has been formed on the sidelines of UN summit in USA where China-Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to oversee the issue, but no visible result has been found in the last six months, a senior official comments.
According to the TOR, the JWG will develop physical arrangement for return, which would include mechanism of verification, time schedule, transport and logistic arrangements, reception procedures, communication etc. to commence the repatriation process within the stipulated time frame mentioned in the "Arrangement."
According to the repatriation deal signed between Dhaka and Naypyitaw on November 23, Myanmar has agreed to take necessary measures to halt the outflow of its residents to Bangladesh, restore normalcy in northern Rakhine and encourage those who had left Myanmar to return voluntarily and safely to their own households and original places of residence or to a safe place of their choice.
Around 740, 000 lakh Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, including about 660,000, who arrived in the country after August 25, when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown in Rakhine.

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