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Dhaka expects Myanmar’s flexibility in facing repatriation challenges
Shahidul Islam Chowdhury:
Bangladesh would stress the need today for demonstrating flexibility by the Myanmar authorities on facing challenges in starting repatriation of forcibly displaced Rohingya people to Rakhine.
Myanmar authorities also require to relax conditions of showing National Verification Cards by Rohingyas for confirming their return as well as to ensure their freedom of movement, experts and officials believe.
The two countries are expected to discuss these things in a meeting of the Joint Working Group in Dhaka today to assess preparations for starting repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.
A 15-member Myanmar delegation is also set to visit the makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar tomorrow at the request of Bangladesh to encourage the Rohingya people to return to the country.
‘Myanmar authorities should encourage Rohingya people to return to Rakhine by ensuring their security, freedom of movement and livelihood,’ said former foreign ministry secretary and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute vice president M. Humayun Kabir.
Myanmar should also relax conditions of showing certain documents, including National Verification Card, mandatory for verification for return, permission for freedom of movement and assessing feasibility for citizenship, officials said.
‘Imposing strict conditions would make their return impossible,’ Kabir pointed out, adding that a condition of showing NVC for freedom of movement ‘means that there would be no effective freedom of movement.’
Myanmar authorities agreed to allow the returnees and the Rohingyas now living in Rakhine ‘freedom’ of movement subject to presentation of NVC cards.
For dignified return, he said the Myanmar authorities should ensure rights for free movement and freedom of education and livelihood.
On questions of Myanmar’s plan for allowing the returnees to settle in newly constructed cluster villages, Kabir said the Myanmar authorities should make arrangements on the grounds in which the returnees would feel secured and safe and comfortable in integrating into the Rakhine societies.
About the engagement of UN system in the repatriation process, a UN official in Dhaka said UNHCR and UNDP teams have started visiting places in Rakhine as part of a plan for confidence building among returnees and Rohingyas staying in the trouble-torn state.
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque and Myanmar foreign ministry permanent secretary Myint Thu would lead the respective side in the talks that would assess preparations of both the sides for sending the first group of Rohingya people back to their former homeland.
About 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.