Bangladesh rubbishes Myanmar allegations of repatriation delay


Hundreds of Rohingya enter Bangladesh from Budichong, Myanmar through the Palongkhali border in Coxsbazar, Bangladesh, 09 October 2017, after crossing the Naf river. Photo: Abir Abdullah/EPA-EFE

Bangladesh embassy in Yangon have rubbished claims by a top Myanmar official that Dhaka was delaying the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees.

This follows a statement on Tuesday to the media by U Zaw Htay,  director-general of the Myanmar State Counselor Office. 

U Zaw Htay said Myanmar was ready to start the repatriation process any time and would go by the criteria of the 1993 agreement with Bangladesh that covered the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar at that time.

Reacting to U Zaw Htay's allegations that Bangladesh was delaying the Rohingya repatriation process to garner international aid money, Bangladesh embassy First Secretary Reyad Hossain said the director-general of Myanmar’s State Counselor Office was “ill-informed” of the process.

He explained that Bangladesh has already handed over a revised paper on the repatriation process to the Minister for the State Counsellor Office U Kyaw Tint Swe in Dhaka on 2 October.

Myanmar responded to the draft on 20 October, he said , adding "Bangladesh is now examining it and its response will not be delayed."

The home ministers of the two countries on 24 October agreed that an arrangement to bring back the Rohingya to Myanmar would be finalized within the next few weeks.

That would lead to a Joint Working Group for preparing the Terms of Reference (TOR) for taking back the refugees.

“Hence, the process of consultation is very much on and it is totally wrong to blame any side at this stage,” said Md. Reyad Hossain.

More than 600,000 Muslims have fled northern Rakhine to Bangladesh since ARSA fighters attacked 30 police stations and one army base on night of 24-25 August. 

Last month, both Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to restore stability in restive Rakhine State but failed to reach an agreement over the repatriation of refugees.

On Tuesday, U Zaw Htay said Myanmar was "ready to start the repatriation " but Bangladesh was delaying it because it was "getting millions of dollars from donors in  the international community to help build refugee camps "  for the Rohingya.

“Currently they have got US$400 million. We are afraid that receipt of such big amounts may lead to delays in deporting the refugees,” he told media on Tuesday.

“They have got international subsidies. We are now afraid they would have other considerations,” he said.

Reyad Hossain said Myanmar could expect this kind of monetary support and “much more” from the international community if it agreed to resettle and integrate the Rohingya into Myanmar society.

“This, however, depends upon Myanmar’s sincerity to find durable and inclusive solutions,” said Hossain.

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