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Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi says the country is ready to receive ‘verified’ Rohingya refugees

A UN Security Council delegation arrived in Myanmar for a two-day visit to investigate the crisis and met with the country’s leader for more than an hour

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 5:23am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 1:29pm

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said Monday that her country was ready for the return of “verified” Rohingya refugees and sought more cooperation from Bangladesh for the repatriation to begin after delays since early this year. 

During talks that lasted over an hour with a UN Security Council delegation, she also said violence in the area could recur “any time”, an official release from her office said without further elaboration. 

The Security Council team comprising representatives from the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent member states arrived in Naypyidaw on Monday afternoon for a two-day visit to investigate the Rohingya refugee crisis. 

The team also met on Monday with Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who blamed Rohingya extremists for creating violence in Rakhine, according to his office. 

On Tuesday, the delegation is expected to travel to the northern part of Rakhine State in the country’s west, the area affected by the violence last year. 

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine between August and early this year, with the vast majority seeking shelter at camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. 

They fled to escape a harsh crackdown launched by the Myanmar government in reprisal for attacks by an armed Rohingya faction against government security posts. 

‘No magic solution’ to Rohingya crisis admits UN team

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in November to begin the repatriation process in January, but it has since been delayed for logistical reasons. 

Myanmar authorities said they have verified around 700 Muslims so far as residents of Rakhine State from a list of over 8,000 Rohingya refugees in the first batch to be repatriated. 

The council team was in Bangladesh from Sunday until Monday morning where they visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to meet with Rohingya Muslims as well as UN and government officials there. 

They met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday morning in the capital Dhaka, with Hasina asking the Security Council to press Myanmar to take back hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, according to a Reuters report from Dhaka. 

Council delegation member Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, the Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations, told journalists at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka before departure for Myanmar that the UN is determined to find a solution to the crisis. 

The delegation is expected to hold a press briefing on Tuesday evening in Naypyidaw after their day trip to Rakhine, where they are expected to see the aftermath of last year’s violence and preparations for the return of refugees currently in Bangladesh.