THE 8th round of foreign office consultations between Bangladesh and Myanmar has yielded some good results. The Rohingya issue, particularly expatriation of Rohingya refugees, who have been bearing tremendous hardship in refugee camps, over two decades in some cases, has been the major stumbling block in the improvement of our bilateral relationship. We are happy to note that a definite progress has been made by Myanmar's fresh commitment to start the process of repatriation of the stranded Rohingya refugees after almost a decade of the process being stalled. This is very positive move towards improving the bilateral ties between Dhaka and Yangon.
We would hope that all the bureaucratic formalities and the necessary groundwork would by completed in due time for the repatriation to start as soon as possible. However, this is only a part of the refugee issue. Apart from the registered 32 000 Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh now there are several hundred thousand of unregistered refugees here whose repatriation issue should also be addressed by Myanmar.
While we would hope that a comprehensive agreement in this regard would eventuate and that all Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh would soon be able to go back to their own country, it is the root cause of their seeking succour in our territory that Myanmar should address in earnest. Marginalisation of the Rohingyas and in fact the specter of their being disenfranchised as a citizen of Myanmar looms large in the minds of the Arakanese Muslims or Rohingyas. This is as important as the many other important aspects of our bilateral relationship.