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POST TIME: 11 September, 2019 11:23:17 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 September, 2019 01:29:40 AM
Assessment of situation in Rakhine
Myanmar nods to visit by Bangladesh, foreign teams
Diplomatic Correspondent, Dhaka

Myanmar nods to visit by Bangladesh, foreign teams

Myanmar has agreed to take high-level representatives of Bangladesh and other countries to Rakhine to show the improvement it has done to ensure the safe return of Rohingyas to their homeland. Bangladesh is currently hosting about 1.1 million Rohingyas most of whom were displaced due to the persecution of Myanmar army back in 2017.

“The Myanmar government has recently agreed to take our ambassador and some others to the areas [in Rakhine] from where Rohingyas were displaced. This is a new development,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told journalists yesterday.

The minister was speaking with reporters after hailing from a seminar of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), titled "Sustainable Development Goal-3: Good Health and Well-Being", at its office in the capital. Bangladesh has long been telling the Myanmar government that it should allow the international community to enter the affected areas in Rakhine state. It mentions that such visits will show that Myanmar is really improving the situation in those areas and convince the Rohingyas to return to their homeland.

“The Myanmar government informed us that they were ready for the repatriation of Rohingyas. But we asked them to explain their position. So, they have agreed to take our ambassador and some other ambassadors to the affected areas to show the real scenario,” said the foreign minister.

After the second attempt to repatriate the Rohingya refugees failed on August 22, the foreign minister had said that Myanmar should take some of the Rohingya leaders to the affected areas to convince them that they had really improved the condition for their repatriation.

“It is the Myanmar government’s responsibility to convince their people to  return to their back home. They have failed so far. They could not convince their people to start the repatriation,” he said yesterday.

The minister also said that Bangladesh would not forcibly send the Rohingya s back as a treaty had been signed with Myanmar in this regard.

Asked whether the Rohingyas did not go back because of the lack of preparation on the part of Bangladesh, the minister said: “The Rohingyas did not return because there is a condition that they wmust return voluntarily. We would not forcibly send anyone back.”

However, a voluntary return is applicable when a person gets the “refugee status”.

“We signed an agreement that we would not forcibly send anyone back. We still stand that point. But we want the Myanmar government to take their people back as soon as possible,” the minister noted.

Asked whether the Myanmar government is erecting government structures in those affected areas, Momen said: “I don’t have any such information. I came to know this from you (journalists). But Myanmar must have some arrangements so that Rohingyas can stay there.”

“When the Rohingyas fled to our country from Myanmar, they did not think of their houses. Once they start going back there, they will be able to build their houses. If they don’t go back, how the process is going to begin?” he added.

The minister also said the Myanmar government is repeatedly informing Bangladesh that they had made arrangements for Rohingyas there.

On the relocation of the Rohingya people to Bhasanchar, Momen said: “Bhasanchar is a small temporary arrangement for some days. It’s not a solution. The current camps are very congested, as around 11 lakh people are living in a congested area of 6,800 acres of land. Besides, there could be landslides during monsoon. So we thought of the temporary arrangement.”