The process of repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to their native land in Maynmar will take more time. Even though Myanmar is ready to start repatriating the refugees from Wednesday, it is learnt the Bangladesh Government has yet to complete a list of the refugees who will return as agreed under a bilateral agreement.
According to a report in the Myanmar edition of The Irrawaddy, the Bangladesh commissioner of refugee relief and rehabilitation, Abul Kalam said on Monday that the return would be delayed as ‘there are many things remaining’ adding, ‘the list of people to be sent back is yet to be prepared, their verification and setting up of transit camps has not been completed’.
He also did not give any specific date for the repatriation which was scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Earlier in November last year, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and agreed to form a joint working committees within three weeks to work on repatriating the more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh after a military crackdown triggered by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacks on security posts in northern Rakhine State in late August last year.
However, Myanmar is ready with tents, buses, food and water supply have been prepared for the refugees at repatriation camps in Taungpyoletwe and Nga Khu Ya in Maungdaw.
“According to the agreement, repatriation is set to begin on January 23. So, we have made preparations. If we get the list, we can start tomorrow. But we have not yet received it,” the Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister of Myanmar, Dr Win Myat Aye told reporters on Monday, as reported by The Irrawaddy.
By the second week of January, the Myanmar government had verified over 1,200 refugees -750 Muslims and more than 500 Hindus – as refugees entitled to return. Under the MoU, the Bangladeshi government was to ask them if they were willing to return, and send the list of returnees prior to the repatriation.
According to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar, returnees will be accommodated at a camp in Hla Po Khaung in northern Rakhine State, while their houses burned in clashes are reconstructed.
The decision from Bangladesh to delay the repatriation process has been prompted by apprehensions of the refugees about their security in Myanmar camps.