Repatriation process assured, but no progress

The Myanmar government is committed to Repatriation but there’s still no details of how or when the process will begin.

The Joint Working Group made up of members of the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments, met on Thursday to discuss the return of Rohingya, with both sides agreeing that talks were positive.

Myint Thu, the Myanmar foreign ministry permanent secretary told the press,

‘We had a very fruitful meeting and we have discussed how we will commence the repatriation … We have discussed openly about preparation for the repatriation and we will work on it jointly.’

It’s understood that further talks are expected and these will involve discussion of the process. For now, the Myanmar official has called for more awareness raising about the repatriation and stated that they would outline their problems meeting the process, to Bangladesh.

Although refusing to comment on the problems facing repatriation, Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters,

‘Such repatriation is always a complex and difficult matter, but we understand its necessity. We feel the process should begin as soon as possible and we are discussing the challenges before us.’

A new list of eligible refugees will be making its way to Myanmar very soon. In February the Bangladesh government supplied the names of over 8,000 refugees to make up the first phase of Rohingya return to Myanmar. However, given the time taken by the Myanmar government to verify around 1,000 names from the first, Bangladeshi officials are not rushing to send the new one.

National Verification Cards were also brought up at the meeting, with Bangladesh officials seeking clarification from their Myanmar counterparts that the Rohingya could use them to find work.  Myanmar said that NVC cards will be given to Rohingya on return.

Bangladeshi officials also called for Myanmar to give them ‘verifiable, concrete information’ which they feel would give refugees the confidence to return.

Xchange has been on the ground in Bangladesh for their upcoming Rohingya Repatriation Survey, which  drops on May 23. The research, building on two previous Rohingya surveys conducted during September-October 2017 and January-February 2018, investigates the views of Rohingya refugees on returning to Myanmar from Bangladesh. Stay tuned for the report!

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Rohingya repatriation: No progress, more reassurances from Myanmar; Dhaka Tribune;