Myanmar will take back 450 Hindu refugees from Bangladesh at a refugee camp set up in Rakhine as the first step of repatriation process.
The process of Rohingya repatriation from Bangladesh will begin from January 22, according to Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar Win Myat Aye, reports DVB, a news portal of Myanmar.
The minister made the announcement following talks yesterday in Naypyidaw between the government and representatives of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC).
Win Myat Aye said a group of 450 Hindu refugees will be allowed back across the border to Myanmar on January 22 as the first step in the repatriation process.
A refugee camp has been set up at Taungpyoleiwei in northwestern Rakhine State for those returning overland from Bangladesh, while a second camp has been erected in Ngakhuya, Maungdaw Township, for those returning by sea or waterways.
Myanmar’s state media reported that, at yesterday’s meeting in Yangon, the chairman of the MNHRC urged Win Myat Aye to ensure the repatriation process in a transparent manner.
MNHRC members paid a visit to Maungdaw from 11-15 December to gauge the current situation, and subsequently submitted their findings to the president.
The UN estimates that over 600,000 persons – the vast majority being Rohingya Muslims – fled in fear of reprisals during a military campaign aimed at rooting out insurgents and their supporters following a deadly attack by Rohingya militants on police and army posts on 25 August.
The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR has offered to assist in the refugee repatriation efforts. Referring to the exodus as “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world” just three weeks ago, the agency’s deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements said, “Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are not in place to enable a safe and sustainable return … refugees are still fleeing.”