Rohingya refugees forcibly displaced from Myanmar will be repatriated in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s five-point proposal and the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission, the Bangladesh home ministry said yesterday.
The announcement followed a meeting of the de facto leader of the Myanmar civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, and a 10-member Bangladeshi delegation led by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
According to a statement issued by Home Ministry spokesperson Sharif Mahmood Apu, Suu Kyi said her government has started working on the repatriation process of the Rohingya who have entered Bangladesh.
During Wednesday morning’s meeting, Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also invited Suu Kyi to Bangladesh on behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In response to the invitation, the Myanmar state counsellor said she would visit Bangladesh “at a favourable time for both the counties”.
Kamal also informed Suu Kyi about the chances of Rohingyas getting involved in terrorism and militancy if they are not repatriated soon, and how that could create a problem for both countries.
On Tuesday, Myanmar agreed to the repatriation of the Rohingyas and to the boosting of border security as part of the recommendations made in the final report of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
Suu Kyi also said Myanmar will close the border to stop yaba smuggling to Bangladesh.
The agreements were reached at a bilateral ministerial meeting at the Myanmar Ministry of Home Affairs in Naypyidaw. The two sides agreed to form a Joint Working Group regarding the repatriation process by the end of November.
Earlier this month, the union minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar, Kyaw Tint Swe, visited Dhaka and told Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali that his country would take back its displaced Rohingya nationals.
Afterwards, the foreign minister told reporters that Myanmar had come up with the repatriation proposal and agreed to form the Joint Working Group to start the process.
The advisory commission led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan released its final report on August 24, only one day before the Myanmar army launched its crackdown in response to Rohingya insurgents’ attacks on several police outpost and an army base in Rakhine.
Since the beginning of that counteroffensive, which the UN has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, at least 600,000 Rohingyas have fled Rakhine and taken refuge in Bangladesh, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR.
However, following the brutal persecution and influx of the Rohingyas, Myanmar has faced massive international pressure demanding investigations into the violence and killings, and the repatriation of the refugees.
The UN migration body has termed it “the fastest growing crisis in the world”, and said the growing influx of refugees is “creating immense pressure on Bangladesh”.