Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali left Dhaka for Myanmar last night to see for himself whether a conducive environment has been created in Rakhine for the safe return of forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
He is leading a 15-member delegation of the Joint Working Group (JWG) formed to facilitate the Rohingya repatriation. During the four-day visit, the team will see the accommodation facilities, particularly installation of prefabricated houses, for the Rohingyas.
In December last year, Bangladesh and Myanmar formed the 30-member JWG -- 15 from each country -- in Myanmar to supervise all aspects of the refugee repatriation.
The group held its second meeting in Bangladesh in mid-May, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and Myanmar Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary U Myint Thy.
During the tour, the foreign minister will meet Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar U Kyaw Tint Swe and Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Win Myat Aye.
Dhaka has sought an appointment with State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi or vice-president of the country, but the Myanmar side is yet to confirm it.
Diplomatic sources said the Bangladesh delegation was visiting Myanmar at a time when the country was dealing with floods.
The Bangladesh delegation will first reach Yangon and then fly for Naypyitaw for meetings. After that, the Bangladesh side will visit northern Rakhine State where the Myanmar government will show the team houses being built for the accommodation of Rohingyas who will return from Bangladesh.
The delegation will return on August 12.
Over 720,000 Myanmar nationals fled to Bangladesh after a brutal military crackdown on them in August last year.
Myanmar embassy in Dhaka earlier said the Bangladesh side intended to visit the villages around Maungdaw township of Rakhine and see the progress of repatriation process, including housing, along with other facilities.
A senior official at the foreign ministry said the Myanmar government took initiatives that they had told the world. However, “We want to see the situation on the ground. Hence, the JWG team, led by the foreign minister, will go to northern Rakhine State.”
The Rohingyas, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attacks since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
In 2017, the UN and other described the violence in Rakhine as “text book example of ethnic cleansing”.