Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali yesterday said they are expecting to begin the Rohingya repatriation soon by sending the first batch of over 3,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals.
"We are thinking of beginning the first batch of repatriation soon. I can't tell you the date at this moment. Clearance for over 3000 Rohingya names is given. Let's see," Ali told reporters yesterday after attending a seminar titled “Rohingya Crisis: Challenges and Ways Forward” at National Defence College (NDC) in Dhaka.
The minister said he cannot tell further on the issue but mentioned Bangladesh will remain cautious.
Over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh after being forced out of their homes during last year's military operation which UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein compared, at the time, to ethnic cleansing.
Meanwhile, regarding repatriation, UN Secretary General António Guterres said at the Security Council meeting on August 28 that conditions are not yet met for the return of Rohingya refugees.
He said UNHCR, UNDP and the Myanmar authorities finalised a Memorandum of Understanding in June this year that establishes a framework for cooperation to create conditions for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh. The MoU is also aimed at helping to create improved and resilient livelihoods for all communities living in Rakhine State. However, all of this requires a massive investment -- not only in reconstruction and development for all communities in one of Myanmar's poorest regions, but also in reconciliation and respect for human rights, he said, adding, “I do not yet see the needed commitment for that investment to take place.“
Earlier, a Bangladesh delegation led by the foreign minister paid a four-day (August 9-12) visit to Myanmar, including some parts of the worst-affected northern Rakhine State, and saw the "trail of widespread devastation" suffered by the people who lived there.