Myanmar screens 42,040 Rohingyas for return

Bangladesh sends another list of  2,30,717

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:06, Jan 12,2021


The Myanmar authorities have assessed eligibility of 42,040 Rohingya people in about three years for the purpose of their return to the country from Bangladesh.

But the military-controlled country has cleared only 27,640 Rohingyas in the period for taking them back, rejecting about 14,400 members of the community on insubstantial grounds, Bangladesh officials said. 

The Bangladesh government has continued sending lists, with data on 2,30,717 displaced people handed over to the Myanmar authorities on Monday for verification, a government official said.

Bangladesh has so far sought clearance for the repatriation of 8,29,036 Rohingyas to Myanmar, the official added.

‘The process of granting clearance is very slow, which raises questions about the Myanmar government’s political commitment to the resolution of the Rohingya crisis,’ Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Humayun Kabir told New Age on Monday.

Describing the matter as a ‘complex strategic dilemma,’ he said that it was a real challenge for the Bangladesh government to make a breakthrough with multidimensional diplomatic efforts involving China, Japan and the US, as well as by maintaining a bilateral mechanism with Myanmar.

Asked about the rejection of about 33 per cent of the people the Myanmar authorities have assessed, a government official said that the Myanmar government was possibly comparing the lists presented to them with decade-old lists of Rohingya inhabitants of Rakhine.

Many Rohingyas are not in the lists of the Myanmar government as it stopped registration of Rohingya residents about eight years ago, said the official. 

Myanmar also rejected names on flimsy grounds, including ‘mismatches’ that actually resulted from differences in spellings between the English lists presented by Bangladesh and the Burmese lists maintained by the Myanmar government, officials said. 

Besides, Myanmar also follows a ‘fictitious list of criminals’, they added.

Some 8,60,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, have entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning since August 25, 2017, according to UN agencies.

Bangladesh handed over the first list of displaced Rohingyas to Myanmar in January 2018 with expectations to start repatriation. 

Two attempts at repatriation failed in 2018 as not a single Rohingya expressed willingness to go back to Myanmar citing lack of conducive environment and security in Rakhine state of Myanmar.   

The latest Rohingya influx has raised the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 1.2 million, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

Asked about the government efforts to launch new processes of Rohingya repatriation, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said, ‘We are trying to start the processes, including the trilateral mechanism with China, for starting repatriation.’

The Bangladesh government has recently relocated over 3,400 Rohingyas from camps in Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char island in Noakhali district to decongest existing camps in the coastal tourism district.

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