Myanmar, Bangladesh sign deal for repatriation of Rohingyas ….reports Asian Lite News
The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh on Thursday signed a MoU, clearing the way for the repatriation of the 622,000 Rohingya refugees who fled across the border to escape a military crackdown.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mahmud Ali and Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar Kyaw Tint Swe signed the agreement in Nay Pyi Taw.
The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry issued a statement outlining the time frame in which the repatriation would be carried out, Efe news reported.
“The arrangement stipulates that the return shall commence within two months. A Joint Working Group will be established within three weeks of signing. A specific bilateral instrument for repatriation will be concluded in a speedy manner,” the statement said.
Myanmar’s Information Ministry said it would accept the refugees as soon as possible but only after they have been identified and their place of origin determined.
Myint Kyaing, a permanent secretary at Myanmar’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, said: “We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us.”
Kyaing was referring to registration forms the Rohingya must complete with personal details before repatriation.
Myanmar wants the current memorandum to be based on an agreement signed between the two countries in 1993 to deal with the repatriation of Rohingyas fleeing violence in the Rakhine state.
The earlier agreement was limited to relocating the refugees according to their place of residence, but did not address the question of their nationality.
The authorities in Myanmar consider them Bangladeshi immigrants, deny them citizenship and impose various restrictions.
The current Rohingya exodus started with the Myanmar security forces responding to the August 25 attacks on government outposts by the Rohingya rebel group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
Although the violence has abated and Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that the Rohingya’s return will be voluntary and safe, there has been widespread international condemnation of their treatment, notably from the UN and the US.
“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday.
Pope Francis is also due to arrive in Myanmar on November 26. His visit will include meetings with Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing and Suu Kyi, the Vatican said.
The Pontiff will later travel to Dhaka to meet Rohingya refugees.