Rohingyas must return, onus on Myanmar to convince: government

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 18:06, Aug 25,2019 | Updated: 00:52, Aug 26,2019


The Bangladesh government on Sunday said that the non-commencement of repatriation of Rohingya people due to their unwillingness was a consequence of the failure of the Myanmar government in fulfilling its obligations.

The foreign ministry said this in a statement in reply to a propaganda launched by the Myanmar authorities blaming Bangladesh for failure of the second attempt of the repatriation efforts on August 22.

‘The accusation against Bangladesh of non-cooperation in the repatriation efforts by a party who is fully responsible for the protracted crisis is baseless, ill-motivated and totally unacceptable,’ said the statement.

Bangladesh foreign ministry said that the UNHCR interviewed 339 families comprising 1,276 individuals till August 22 for facilitating their return on the day.

In the interview process, all available information and the fact-sheets provided by the Myanmar government were shared with the families concerned.

Moreover, adequate measures, including security arrangements, were ensured so that the people concerned could freely express their intent, the statement added.

‘Unfortunately, none of the families interviewed agreed to return in the present circumstances, as they consider the security situation and the overall environment in Rakhine are not yet conducive for their return.’

Almost all the families interviewed, for assessing their voluntariness for repatriation, expressed their deep concern over the security situation in Rakhine, the foreign ministry said.

The overwhelming majority of the families underscored the lack of progress in addressing justice- and rights-related issues including citizenship, freedom of movement and land-use rights.

All families interviewed have reaffirmed their desire to return, once their concerns are reasonably addressed by the government of Myanmar.

As per bilateral instruments on repatriation, the responsibility of encouraging the displaced people to opt for voluntary return lies entirely on Myanmar.

‘It is Myanmar’s responsibility to create a conducive environment in Rakhine through decisive actions and to reduce the trust-deficit of Rohingyas through appropriate measures including dissemination of authentic information on the ground reality.’

Dhaka asked the Myanmar government to fully concentrate on implementation of its obligations and commitments necessary for a durable solution of the Rohingya crisis with demonstrable political will to reasonably address the core concerns of Rohingyas in line with the spirit and provisions of the bilateral instruments on repatriation and the recommendations of the ‘Advisory Commission on Rakhine State’ led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.

The latest Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees from that country in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

The first attempt of return failed November 15, 2018.

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