The Myanmar government on Wednesday sorted out only 374 Rohingyas out of a list of 8,032 ethnic minority people handed over by Bangladesh authorities a month ago for their return to the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
‘Out of 8,032, we verified 374. These 374 will be the first batch of the repatriation,’ permanent secretary of Myanmar foreign ministry Myint Thu said at a press conference in Myanmar’s new capital Naypyitaw, reported Reuters.
The 374 people ‘can come back when it’s convenient for them,’ he said.
Myanmar authorities were unable to confirm whether the rest of the 8,032 people had previously lived in Myanmar, as some documents did not include fingerprints and individual photographs, he claimed.
The documents presented by Bangladesh during handing over the lists for repatriation were ‘not in line with our agreement,’ Myanmar police Brigadier-General Win Tun claimed at the same news conference.
Myanmar found three ‘terrorists’ among the people Bangladesh proposed for repatriation, Win Tun said.
Bangladesh officials have, however, raised question about clarity of the procedure of scrutiny of the list by Myanmar.
Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Abul Kalam, also a member of the joint working group of the two countries, asked how more than 300 people could have been verified if the documents
were in the wrong format, Reuters reported.
Bangladesh government would follow due process agreed by the two countries for repatriation of Rohingyas, acting foreign secretary M Khurshed Alam told New Age on Wednesday.
Bangladesh handed over the list of 8,032 Rohingyas of 1,676 families to Myanmar at a home minister-level meeting in Dhaka on February 16.
Over 6,88,000 Rohingyas fled atrocities in Rakhine State by Myanmar security forces and entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, what the UN experts called the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency with elements of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Officials estimated that the new influx already took to 11.07 lakh the number of Myanmar people living in Bangladesh.
The head of an UN fact-finding mission, denied visas by Myanmar, and a special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, blocked from visiting the country, spoke in Geneva on Monday. Yanghee Lee, the envoy, said atrocities against Rohingyas in Myanmar ‘bear the hallmarks of genocide.’
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed three deals, on November 23 and December 19 in 2017 and January 16, 2018 for setting modalities of physical arrangement for partial repatriation, subject to verification by Myanmar authorities, within two years of transferring the first batch of over 7,73,000 Rohingyas who had fled violence in Rakhine and crossed the border since October in 2016.
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