India welcomes Myanmar-Bangladesh MOU on refugee repatriation


Rohingya refugees return to their tents after receiving relief goods near Balukhali camp, Ukhiya in Coxsbazar, Bangladesh, 20 November 2017. Photo: EPA

India on Thursday welcomed the MOU signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh to start the repatriation of Rohingya refugees.

An Indian external affairs ministry official told Mizzima that the "MOU was a major breakthrough."

"It shows Myanmar and Bangladesh can resolve this issue through bilateral dialogue," the official said but was not willing to be named. " Both countries are friendly neighbours, and we back their efforts to find a solution." 

India had earlier welcomed as encouraging and positive Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi's address on the situation in the country's Rakhine state where violence has triggered an outflow of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to neighbouring Bangladesh.

"It was an encouraging address and contained a very positive message," India's Ambassador to Myanmar Vikram Misri told the media after Suu Kyi's state of the union address on the issue.

"I think we all appreciate the problems and complex challenges that Myanmar faces," he said.

"The situation that has come about in Rakhine state in recent days is something that has caused a lot of concern to not only people within the country but its neighbours, including us, too," Misri had said.

In a recent India-Myanmar seminar organised by the Calcutta-based ISCS think tank here, the former chief of India's external intelligence R&AW had also pitched for Indian support to help Myanmar and Bangladesh find a solution to the Rakhine refugee crisis.

He blamed Pakistan's ISI military intelligence agency for arming and running the ARSA and said a "peaceful solution was necessary to thwart the evil designs of those who want to destabilise this strategic borderland between Bangladesh and Myanmar." 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared New Delhi's concerns over the situation in Rakhine during a meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi when he visited Nay Pyi Taw in September.

India has also extended humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh to handle the refugee crisis.

In his remarks to the media, Ambassador Misri said that India had shared its concerns over the issue at various levels.

He said that while India recognised the right of the authorities to provide security and defend themselves from violent attacks, it was also important to prevent violence against innocent bystanders and civilians.

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