Rohingyas may be taken back to own villages
Myanmar may take back the Rohingyas living in the Cox's Bazar camps to their own villages in North Maungdaw and nearby places instead of any camps or model villages.
Such an indication was communicated to Bangladesh by the Chinese Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Deng Xijun during his meetings with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Monday, said sources in the know.
The special envoy discussed different aspects of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and China, but the main agenda was Rohingya repatriation.
Before coming to Dhaka on Sunday, Xijun went to Myanmar and discussed ways of implementing the repatriation of the Rohingyas with U Ko Ko Hlaing, Myanmar's union minister for international cooperation, and Lieutenant-General Yar Pyae, member of the State Administration Council Union and chairman of the National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee, on July 28.
Earlier, Xijun visited Dhaka on April 6 this year and had a meeting with Momen on Rohingya repatriation .
China, which has been advocating a bilateral solution to the Rohingya crisis, instead of internationalising it since the largest influx in 2017, is mediating the Rohingya repatriation between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
A competent source told The Daily Star that the Chinese special envoy told the Bangladesh authorities that Myanmar signaled that the repatriated Rohingyas will not be taken to any camps or model villages that the Myanmar authorities had earlier planned.
In May this year, a group of Rohingyas for the first time visited Rakhine State. After returning to the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, some of them said they were not willing to return. They demanded that they be settled back in their original villages with safety and citizenship guaranteed. Some of them, however, had agreed to return.
Based on the demands of the Rohingyas, Bangladesh government raised certain issues with the Chinese authorities. For example, the Rohingyas should be taken to the villages and all of a family be repatriated together.
Also, there should be arrangements ensuring their livelihood, education and freedom of mobility.
"We have long been discussing these with the Chinese authorities. This time too, we raised the issues with the Chinese special envoy," Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told The Daily Star last night.
He, however, would not say for sure if the Chinese envoy made it clear that the Myanmar authorities will take the Rohingyas to their own villages.
"We said that not all Rohingya villages have been destroyed. Many are still there. So, they should be taken there," Momen said.
A source, however, told The Daily Star that the Chinse special envoy at the meeting said the Myanmar authorities will bear the expenditures of the repatriated Rohingyas for the first three months.
Moreover, fishing and agricultural implements will be provided to the Rohingyas as their livelihood options after repatriation, said the sources.
At the meeting, Deng Xijun and Foreign Minister Momen discussed a plan to repatriate 7,000 Rohingyas by December, which may start after the monsoon, meeting sources said.
Momen, however, said there was no timeline set yet.
The Bangladesh authorities conveyed to the Chinese special envoy that it is difficult to start the repatriation during the monsoon, but meantime they will complete the preparations for the repatriation.
"Rohingya repatriation should start at the soonest. They are suffering here. Sadly, many are opposing their repatriation," Momen said.
There is a huge shortage of funding for the Rohingyas because of other global crises, and they can only live a better life when they return to their homes, he said.
"We don't want any geopolitical game over the Rohingyas."