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First-ever Rohingya team visits Myanmar to see repatriation effort
May 5th, 2023 at 1:39 pm
First-ever Rohingya team visits Myanmar to see repatriation effort

by Staff Correspondent,

Dhaka – Two motorboats carrying a team of 20 Rohingya Muslims along with Bangladeshi officials on Friday reached Myanmar’s Rakhine state crossing the river Naf to see the arrangements made across the border for refugee repatriation.

A team is expected to return in the afternoon equipped perception as to whether the Rohingya return is safe and dignified as earlier attempts to repatriate them were halted twice in 2018 and 2019 over the Rohingyas’ “no”. The refugees were not feeling safe.

“The team members during the one-day visit will assess the Myanmar’s resettlement arrangements,” said Mizanur Rahman, head of Bangladesh’s Rohingya Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC). He added that Bangladesh never wants to force to send any Rohingya to Myanmar.

“If they feel safe, we will help them get back home,” Rahman said adding that the repatriation of some 1,100 people may began sometimes this month if everything goes on right direction.     

This is the first ever visit by any the Rohingya team after the 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine led to a mass exodus to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1 million Rohingya Muslim in Cox’s Bazar district after they fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Some 750,000 of them crossed the border after the 2017 clampdown.

The Rohingya team will be taken to Maungdaw town of Rakhine. A brief guided tour will be arranged in some of the town-adjacent villages, said a repatriation official in Cox’s Bazar.

Seven Bangladeshi officials drawn from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh force and the RRRC are accompanying the refugees.

The visit came in response to a Myanmar delegation’s trip to Bangladeshi camp to verify the identities of the Rohingya who were chosen for initial repatriation project backed by China. Some, 1,100 people were chosen for the initial repatriation.

The UN refugee agency, United Nations High Commission for Refugee, in a statement in March, viewed that conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state were “not conducive” to the sustainable Rohingya repatriation.  

The agency was not involved in the discussion on the bilateral project in which Bangladesh and Myanmar worked on repatriation as per the 2017 agreement signed between the two countries.

Human Rights Watch was also against the move urging Bangladesh to halt the repatriation plan.