Bangladesh is likely to accept Myanmar’s intent to relocate Rohingyas staying along no-man’s-land to facilitate implementation of the instruments signed between the two countries on repatriation of those who fled violence in Rakhine State.
Relocating several thousand Rohingyas staying along the zero line would be a good starter for beginning the repatriation as verification of their eligibility would be rendered unnecessary by the fact that they did not cross the border, a senior government official told New Age on Wednesday.
Bangladesh and Myanmar on Tuesday signed a deal for setting modalities of physical arrangement for partial repatriation within two years of transferring the first batch of Rohingyas who entered Bangladesh since October 2016.
The arrangement agreed by the two sides involves the repatriation of over 7,40,000 Rohingyas who fled violence in Rakhine and crossed the border since October 2016.
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque on Wednesday hoped that the deal signed with Myanmar would ensure safe and secured return of Rohingyas to Rakhine State.
Three important matters — safe return, resettlement and re-integration — would be ensured through ‘physical arrangement’, he told New Age at his office in Dhaka, a day after signing the deal.
Myanmar would receive about 1,500 Rohingyas every five days in a week and ‘the number will be increased based on progress of return’ for completing the entire process of repatriation by two years, he elaborated.
Members of the joint working group would visit the camps to be set for the returnees in Myanmar to see their livelihood in Rakhine State, he said.
Haque said the verification and return would be based on considering family as a unit with filling up of a form agreed and attached in the instrument.
Modalities for repatriation of orphans and children born out of unwarranted incidence were incorporated in the said arrangement, he added.
Head of a prospective returnee family would require providing details of the members of his or her family including name, parents name, spouse’s name, address in Rakhine State, age, date of birth and professions of the family members etc in a prescribed form for verification by Myanmar authorities, officials said.
Prospective returnees would also put finger prints in the forms and attach whatever documents and information they have for consideration of eligibility for repatriation.
Bangladesh would engage the UNHCR, other UN-mandated organisations and international organisations in the repatriation, he said.
Myanmar might consider involvement of ICRC or other international organisations in the process, Haque said, adding that the JWG would sit again in Dhaka next month.
Bangladesh will provide lists of prospective returnees and duly filled verification forms to Myanmar side for assessing eligibility for return.
Bangladesh might consider including in the list names of 508 Hindus and 750 Muslims who were already ‘verified as Myanmar residents’ by the Myanmar authorities, in the first batch of actual repatriation from Bangladesh camps, officials said.
None of the sides, however, made it clear when they would begin actual transfer as they were supposed to ‘commence’ the ‘repatriation process’ on January 23.
The text of the physical arrangement, which will facilitate return of Rohingays from Bangladesh, guided by the earlier understanding and principles mentioned in ‘Arrangement on return of displaced person from Rakhine State’, signed on November 23, and the terms of reference of the joint working group, agreed on December 19, Bangladesh embassy in Yangon said in a press release on Tuesday.
Over 6,55,500 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing, between August 25, 2017 and January 14, 2018.
Several international authorities denounced the operations as textbook example of ethnic cleansing and genocide, according to estimates by UN agencies.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the total number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 10,74,000 till January 14 over four decades, according to Bangladesh authorities.
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