Bangladesh says Myanmar makes proposal to take back Rohingya refugees
The United Nations has called the exodus of 507,000 Rohingya since August 25 the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency
Myanmar has proposed taking back the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, the Bangladeshi foreign minister said after talks Monday with a senior Myanmar representative.
A.H. Mahmood Ali said the representative of de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the repatriation. He gave no details.
“The talks were held in a friendly atmosphere and Myanmar has made a proposal to take back the Rohingya refugees,” the minister told reporters after meeting Kyaw Tint Swe in Dhaka.
“The two sides have agreed to a proposal to set up a joint working group to coordinate the repatriation process.”
Suu Kyi, who has been severely criticised for her failure to intervene in a military crackdown on the Rohingya, said in a speech last month that Myanmar would take back “verified” refugees.
Watch: what’s driving the Rohingya crisis?
This would be done according to the criteria set between the two countries in 1993, when tens of thousands of Rohingya were repatriated, she said.
The Bangladesh minister gave no time frame for repatriation.
He said the refugees would be verified by the joint working group, with the United Nations not involved.
There was no immediate comment from Suu Kyi’s representative.
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority, do not qualify for Myanmar citizenship even though many have lived there for generations.
The army insists they are interlopers from across the border in Bangladesh.
The meeting in Dhaka came as Myanmar authorities took foreign diplomats and United Nations representatives on a tour of conflict-torn northern Rakhine state.
Three groups of diplomats were taken to three different areas Monday, said Ye Htut, district administrator of Maungdaw in Rakhine. He did not provide details on the diplomats’ nationalities.
Local officials in Rakhine said Monday’s tour included meetings with relatives of victims allegedly killed by militants during the violence against Hindu, Mro and Daignets minority communities in Maungdaw township. On Monday morning, the diplomats were taken to Anaut Pyin village of Rathedaung township, a community of Rohingya Muslims who have not fled, said local police officer Moe Zaw.
Agence France-Presse and Associated Press