Dhaka – Bangladesh and Myanmar on Tuesday formed a panel consisting of officials from both countries to oversee jointly the process of Rohingya repatriation, timeline for which was not set yet.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Huq his Myanmar counterpart Myint Thu will lead their respective side at the panel to expedite the process of repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who sheltered in Bangladesh fleeing violence in Myanmar.
The 30-member panel, formally called Joint Working Group, was formed at a meeting between officials from Bangladesh and Myanmar in Dhaka as per an agreement signed between the two Asian neighbours for the safe return of the displaced people on November 23.
Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, who witnessed the signing of the minutes of the meeting, told reporters that the process for repatriation of the Myanmar displaced people will begin soon.
The agreement, earlier, set the timeline to begin the repatriation on January 21, 2018.
The Myanmar government signed the deal amid global pressure after a military crackdown on suspected Muslim insurgents forced at least 655,000 Rohingya Muslims to cross the border into Bangladesh to safety from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The influx created a humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh’s southern Cox’s Bazar district where yet another 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have been living after they were driven away from their homes in Rakhine in the late 1970s and 1990s.
The panel, which will draw 15 members from each country, will be tasked with verification of the identity of the Rohingya Muslims, ensure safety of those who voluntarily want to return to their ancestral homes, rehabilitation and reintegration.
Human rights groups, which accused Myanmar army of committing crime against humanity, urged both Bangladesh and Myanmar to create an atmosphere in Rakhine state for safe return of the displaced people.
United States termed the military brutality in Myanmar as ethnic cleansing while the United Nation termed it as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya is a minority group in Myanmar. The group was stripped off their citizenship by military Junta in Myanmar in the early 1980s.