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Dhaka to ink deal with UNHCR on Rohingya repatriation

  • Published at 09:13 pm January 21st, 2018
  • Last updated at 06:36 pm January 23rd, 2018
Dhaka to ink deal with UNHCR on Rohingya repatriation
Bangladesh will sign an agreement with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to carry out the repatriation process as the international community reiterated its call for “safe, voluntary and dignified” return of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar to make their return sustainable, reports UNB. "They [the UNHCR] gave a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU). We are working on it and we will sign it once it is finalized," Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told reporters after briefing diplomats at state guest house Padma on Sunday evening. Myanmar, however, does not want UNHCR's involvement right now, but wants the involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The foreign minister said Myanmar had agreed to involve the UNHCR when necessary, but not now. He briefed the Western and non-Muslim countries' diplomats and diplomats from Muslim majority countries separately. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque also attended the briefing. When his attention was drawn over diplomats' call for voluntary repatriation, Mahmood said Bangladesh also favoured "voluntary" return and this was mentioned in the three documents so far signed with Myanmar over Rohingya repatriation. The foreign minister said Myanmar involved China, Japan and India for the development of Rakhine state, and he was likely to pay a visit to see the progress. Asked whether Rohingyas are willing to go back, he said: "We cannot send them forcibly." [caption id="attachment_241738" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali briefs diplomats from Muslim majority countries on the progress of Rohingya repatriation issue at State Guesthouse Padma on Sunday, January 21, 2018 Focus Bangla[/caption]

Diplomats for safe Rohingya return

Earlier, diplomats stationed in Dhaka laid emphasis on creating an environment with necessary development in Rakhine state so Rohingyas felt safe and confident to return to Myanmar. The diplomats also assured of continuing support to Bangladesh to facilitate the repatriation process. Talking to reporters, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla said it was necessary to have sustainable development in Rakhine state in order to create an environment for safe and sustainable return of the Rohingyas. "We always believe that there should be sustainable development in the Rakhine state in order to create an environment so that they feel safe to go back home," Shringla said, emphasizing social and economic development there with better livelihood for the Rohingyas. He said India was facilitating the repatriation process as they want to see restoration of normalcy in the Rakhine state. "In fact, our effort is to help by doing something on the ground."
Also Read - Tensions mount in Rohingya camps ahead of planned relocation to Myanmar
The Indian high commissioner said all parties would have to work to create the condition that is necessary. British High Commissioner Alison Blake said the return should be "safe, voluntary and dignified" so it becomes sustainable. "We are with your government," said US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat, laying emphasis on safe return of Rohingyas. Sharing her experience, she said Rohingyas are not willing to go back to their homeland and that is the key challenge. She also emphasized the need for ensuring development in the Rakhine state so Rohingyas feel safe to return. She assured of US support to Bangladesh to complete the process. On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on physical arrangement which will facilitate the return of Rohingays to their homeland from Bangladesh. The United Nations has reiterated its call for voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh, saying Rohingyas need to feel that the situation across the border is safe enough for them.
Also Read - UN special rapporteur visits Rohingya camps in Ukhiya, assures safe rehabilitation

Rohingyas protest repatriation process

Meanwhile, dozens of refugees were seen holding banners opposing their repatriation as United Nations special rapporteur Yanghee Lee visited refugee camps yesterday and the day before, reports Reuters. The refugees refuse to go back unless their safety can be guaranteed and Myanmar grants their demands to be given citizenship and inclusion in a list of recognized ethnic minorities. The refugees are also asking that their homes, mosques and schools that were burned down or damaged in the military operation be rebuilt.
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