No time frame yet on refugee repatriation


A general view of delegates participating in the Cooperation with Myanmar and Bangladesh Minister Meeting on Security and Law Enforcement matters, at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw on 24 October 2017. Photo: Min Min/Mizzima

Bangladesh says Myanmar has not yet given them a 'definite time frame'on taking back Rohingya refugees.

Officials who accompanied Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal to Nay Phi Taw this week told Mizzima the two countries have agreed to stop the flow of refugees to Bangladesh from Myanmar's Rakhine state.

A senior official in Naypyitaw was quoted by Dhaka Tribune as saying that Bangladesh and Myanmar have discussed repatriation of the refugees but did not reach an agreement.

Both countries, however, have agreed to halt the mass exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh and restore stability in Rakhine state to facilitate the repatriation.

Myanmar Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Secretary U Kyaw Zeya told reporters in Naypyitaw on Tuesday that they would go “step by step” on the repatriation issue although Dhaka wanted it to start as soon as possible.

He said the neighbours would form a joint working group for repatriation.

Myanmar Home Minister Lt Gen Kyaw Swe and his Bangladeshi counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal met on Tuesday. The two countries signed two agreements on security and border cooperation.

Home Ministry’s Permanent Secretary U Tint Myint said they were “yet to rebuild infrastructure and draw up resettlement plans” to take back the refugees.

He said Rakhine state leaders were handling the issue and it was “difficult to predict” when preparations would be complete.

President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay said during the Dhaka visit of union minister for the State Counsellor’s Office U Kyaw Tint Swe in October, Bangladesh and Myanmar had discussed principals agreed by the two countries in 1993.

Myanmar cabinet discussed a proposal made by Bangladesh at that time and forwarded the decision to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

But there was no “final discussion” on the matter in Tuesday’s meeting which mainly focused on cooperation, security and law enforcement issues.

Myanmar’s cross-border crime department’s Brig Gen Aung Htay Myint said they “did not discuss plans for refugees.”

He said they discussed the repatriation “to verify and accept back those who have settled in Myanmar and fled to Bangladesh after violence.”

It is unclear how the verification process would work on the ground.

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