South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

On November 23, 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement on the return of displaced Myanmar persons sheltered in Bangladesh.

Myanmar has verified only 374 Rohingyas from over 8,000 identified by Bangladesh for possible repatriation to their homeland in Rakhine state, the relief and refugee repatriation commissioner said on Wednesday.

Abul Kalam told UNB that the Myanmar authorities had conveyed the meagre total to the Bangladesh embassy in Yangon.

Asked whether the verified Rohingyas are ready to go back to Myanmar, the commissioner said they were “yet to talk to them over the matter”.

In the past six months, almost 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violent persecution by the Myanmar military and local Moghs in their Rakhine state homeland.

Since the influx began, local residents in the Cox’s Bazar have been struggling with major challenges, from overstretched infrastructure to major hikes in food prices.

On November 23 last year, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an ‘arrangement’ on the return of displaced Myanmar persons sheltered in Bangladesh.

To facilitate the process, the two countries later signed a document on Physical Arrangement, which stipulated that the repatriation will be completed “preferably within two years” from the start date.

There was no specific timeframe to start the repatriation but Bangladesh had expressed the hope that it would start “soon”.

Last month, Bangladesh handed a list of 8,032 Rohingya from 1,673 families to Myanmar, to start the first phase of repatriations.

On Wednesday, Myint Thu, the permanent secretary at Myanmar’s ministry of foreign affairs, told reporters in Naypyidaw that they had scrutinized the list.

The subsequent decision to accept only 374 Rohingya came one day after the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, described the scorched earth campaign carried out by the Myanmar security forces as “predictable and preventable.”

“Despite the numerous warnings I’ve made of the risk of atrocity crimes, the international community has buried its head in the sand,” he said. “This has cost the Rohingya population of Myanmar their lives, their dignity and their homes.”

Updated On: March 14, 2018