Rohingya return: BD, Myanmar 1st JWG meet Monday

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Desk Report:

In bid to carry forward the repatriation process of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar, the two neighbours will hold the first meeting of joint working group (JWG) on Monday in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.

Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, now in Myanmar, will lead the Bangladesh delegation in the JWG, an official told UNB.

The two countries are likely to finalise an agreement on the ‘physical arrangement’ in the meeting to start the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

On November 23, 2017, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a bilateral ‘arrangement’ on the return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

The JWG consisting of government representatives from Myanmar and Bangladesh was subsequently formed on December 19. The JWG is tasked to develop a specific instrument on the physical arrangement for the repatriation of returnees.

UNHCR said it continues to offer its technical support to both governments to establish a voluntary repatriation framework in line with international standards, with a view to ensuring that any returns occur in conditions of voluntariness and safety – and in a sustainable manner.

Despite challenges, Bangladesh officials said, they are on tracks in terms of timeframe mentioned in the bilateral document signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23.

Meanwhile, Myanmar Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye met with senior monks and local people in Sittway, Rakhine State on Sunday clarifying efforts of the Union Government for peace, repatriation of Rohingyas and resettlement.

At the meeting, local residents discussed the current challenges of the Rakhine people and presented the points that the government should implement to better livelihoods of the ethnic people with peace in the future, reports the Global New Light of Myanmar on Sunday.

Myat Aye, who is also Vice Chairman of the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine State, explained the government’s preparations for repatriation of refugees to Rakhine State.

On the other hand, Rohingyas, now living in Bangladesh, want to see certain positive developments including right to citizenship before returning to their homeland- Myanmar.

“A majority of Rohingyas those interviewed indicated that before considering returning to Myanmar they would need to see some positive developments, in particular in relation to citizenship, security, and the possibility for them to enjoy their basic rights,” says the UNHCR.

Some Rohingyas have also asked for reassurances about UNHCR’s involvement in the process, being familiar with UNHCR’s role and assistance in past efforts to assist refugees to return to Myanmar, according to an ‘operational update’ shared by the UN agency.

Some 655,000 people have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape persecution. unb

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