Bangladesh has handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of the displaced people to their homeland in Rakhine state.
"The Myanmar side has cordially accepted the list," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters on Friday evening after over three hours of meeting with his Myanmar counterpart at the Secretariat in Dhaka.
He said Myanmar would scrutinize the list and names and get back to Bangladesh soon.
He said there was no specific time frame to start the repatriation but he expressed the hope that it would start soon.
"[A congenial] environment needs to be created [in Rakhine] to make their return sustainable. No specific date was provided for repatriation but they showed sincerity and are taking preparations to take their nationals back," Kamal said.
He mentioned that a meeting between Bangladesh and Myanmar would be held in a Myanmar district at 10am on February 20 to take back over 6,000 Rohingyas now staying along the zero line.
He said the Myanmar delegation came here with a positive mood and the meeting was very fruitful. "We are confident that they will take their nationals back."
The home minister and his Myanmar counterpart Lt Gen Kyaw Swe, who headed a 15-member delegation, led their respective sides at the meeting that began around 3:10pm and ended at 6:15pm.
Swe left the venue without making any comment.
They had discussed the issue of ensuring security of the Myanmar nationals after repatriation in light of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's five-point proposal and the report of Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine state.
Yaba and border killings
Home Minister Kamal said Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to shut down yaba factories in Myanmar. "We have identified the 49 yaba factories and the names were handed over to them. They are trying to shut down the factories and sought support from Bangladesh."
He said the two countries discussed the combined operations on both sides of the border to check the rapid spread of yaba, and would work together to stop illicit drug smuggling.
Setting up of a Border Liaison Office in a bid to take instant action to solve any problem was also discussed. "There is progress in this area and it will be done."
Kamal said they also discussed the issues of border killings and border patrolling. Bangladesh sought measures to stop killings along the border.
On Thursday, President Md Abdul Hamid urged Myanmar to take steps so that the displaced Rohingyas can return to their homeland in Rakhine with dignity and safety.
He also requested them to create a congenial atmosphere and build confidence in this regard when a seven-member delegation, led by Kyaw Swe, met him at Bangabhaban.
During the meeting, the president also laid emphasis on the implementation of recommendations made by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to end the Rohingya crisis.
Myanmar Home Minister Kyaw Swe had earlier said that their government would see to that gradually.
On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on physical arrangements which will facilitate the return of the Rohingyas to their homeland. It stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of the process.
A joint-working group has also been formed after both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Rohingyas’ repatriation.
Bangladesh hoped that the Myanmar government would take initiatives to rebuild their houses as well as give back their property, including arable land, shops and business centres, immediately after their return.
Kyaw Swe earlier said his government has already set up a reception camp for the Rohingyas.
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