Rohingya Repatriation: Myanmar needs more time to verify list

Says its minister

A cabinet minister of Myanmar has made it clear that the repatriation of Rohingya refugees will be delayed and they need more time to verify the list provided by Bangladesh.

Myanmar's Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Win Myat Aye said in an interview with Radio Free Asia on Friday that he would be visiting Bangladesh on April 11-12 to discuss the delay in refugee repatriation with Bangladeshi authorities.

During his two-day visit, he said he will meet with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and will also visit Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

Over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine State and came to Bangladesh following the military crackdown on them since August 25 last year. With the 700,000, the total number of the Rohingya population stands at 1.1 million.

Bangladesh has handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar Home Minister during his visit to Dhaka on February 16 to start the first phase  of repatriation of the forcible              displaced people to their   homeland in Rakhine state. But the Myanmar till yesterday verified only 711 people from the list of 8,032 people.

Bangladesh Myanmar signed a repatriation deal on November 23, 2017 and subsequently formed a Joint Working Group comprising of officials from Bangladesh and Myanmar on December 19 to facilitate and expedite the repatriation process.

Talking to Radio Free Asia, Myat Aye said the repatriation has been delayed as the refugees did not fill up the forms in line with the agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“That's why we needed more time to verify people. We sent a list of those whom we could verify to Bangladesh, but we haven't heard anything back yet,” he said adding “We will talk about it when I am in Bangladesh.”

On asked whether Myanmar will work with UN agencies on the Rohingya issue, the Minister said that in the Rohingya repatriation agreement with Bangladesh, his government already said it would work with UN agencies, such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on this issue when it is necessary.