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Bringing Back Rohingyas “Immediate Priority”: Myanmar Tells UN

The two countries agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the repatriation of the minority Muslims.

Updated
World
2 min read
Rohingya insurgents.
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Myanmar told the United Nations refugee agency on Monday that its top priority was to bring back Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh.

Following talks with a senior Myanmar representative, Bangladeshi foreign minister too confirmed that the country has proposed taking back the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks.

The talks were held in a friendly atmosphere and Myanmar has made a proposal to take back the Rohingya refugees.
AH Mahmood Ali, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh

The two countries agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the repatriation of the minority Muslims who have fled across the border after a military crackdown.

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Win Myat Aye, Myanmar's Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, told UNHCR's Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, “Our next immediate priority is to bring back the refugees who have fled to Bangladesh.”

“The repatriation process can start anytime for those who wish to return to Myanmar. The verification of refugees will be based on the agreement between the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments in 1993,” he said.

“Those who have been verified as refugees from this country will be accepted without any problem and with full assurance of their security and their access to human dignity.”

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have arrived in Bangladesh over the last five weeks, after militant attacks on police checkposts in the Buddhist majority country sparked violent reprisals. Bangladesh has repeatedly urged Myanmar to repatriate them.

Ali said the meeting was held “in a peaceful manner” and Bangladesh handed over the Myanmar representative a proposed agreement for smooth refugee repatriation and suggested implementation of Annan Commission report for peaceful resolution of the crisis.

Asked if there was any timeframe fixed for forming the joint working group, the minister evaded a direct answer saying “the process has started” but said Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan would “soon visit Myanmar to discuss the issue”.

There was no immediate comment from Suu Kyi's representative, who arrived last night amid mounting global pressures on the country over exodus of its ethnic minority Rohingya nationals to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier called for an end to the violence, and for safe zones to be set up in Myanmar to enable refugees to return.

(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)

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