News ID: 201618
Published: 0314 GMT October 02, 2017

Myanmar ‘makes proposal’ to take back Rohingya refugees

Myanmar ‘makes proposal’ to take back Rohingya refugees

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 leader Aung San Suu Kyi had agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the repatriation. He gave no details, AFP reported.

"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."

He said the refugees would be verified by the joint working group, with the United Nations not involved.

The United Nations has called the influx of 507,000 Rohingya since late August the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, and says Buddhist-majority Myanmar is engaging in ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship, despite having roots in Myanmar that go back centuries, with communities marginalized and subjected to bouts of communal violence over the years.

Problems of statelessness had to be tackled, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told a meeting in Geneva.

“Nowhere is the link between statelessness and displacement more evident than with the Rohingya community,” he said.

But many refugees are gloomy about the prospects of going back, fearing they will not be able to furnish the documents they anticipate Myanmar will demand to prove they have a right to return.

Myanmar has refused to grant access to a UN fact-finding mission but Suu Kyi last year appointed a team led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to draw up recommendations on solving problems in Rakhine.

The commission presented its recommendations on Aug. 24, a day before the insurgent attacks, among them a review of a law that links citizenship and ethnicity and leaves most Rohingya stateless.

The panel also recommended that the government punish rights violations, ensure the right to freedom of movement and invest in infrastructure to lift the state out of poverty.

Suu Kyi, in her address to the nation last month, said she was committed to the recommendations.

There were already about 300,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh before the latest influx.


‘Ghost town’

In Myanmar, the government took diplomats to Rakhine to let them see the situation.

“Maungdaw feels like a ghost town,” Swiss Ambassador Paul Seger said on Twitter, as he arrived in a main town in the north of Rakhine.

Myanmar has blocked most aid workers and the media from the area, despite international calls for access to deal with what aid groups fear is an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

The United States, in its strongest criticism of Myanmar over the crisis, called last week on countries to suspend providing weapons to Myanmar’s military. But it stopped short of threatening to reimpose sanctions.


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