Dhaka, Beijing discuss ways for early repatriation of Rohingyas

Rohingyas repatriation
A Rohingya refugee repairs the roof of his shelter at the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on March 5, 2019. File photo: Reuters

Bangladesh and China on Thursday discussed ways for the "early repatriation" of Rohingyas, currently taking shelter in Cox's Bazar district, to their place of origin in Rakhine state of Myanmar.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming met Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and discussed the Rohingya crisis apart from other issues of mutual interests.

"Ambassador Li met Foreign Minister Dr Momen for further discussions on early repatriation of the displaced people (Rohingyas) and for an early date of return to their homeland," Minister (Counselor) and Deputy Head of Mission, Chinese Embassy in Dhaka Yan Hualong told UNB after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Li met Chairman of Red Crescent Society of Bangladesh (BDRCS) Hafiz Ahmed Mazumdar, Vice Chairman Prof Dr Md Habibe Millat on Thursday.

Both sides discussed humanitarian cooperation between Bangladesh and China; and early return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

Though Bangladesh stands ready to begin Rohingya repatriation, Myanmar has been spreading propaganda and falsehood claiming that Bangladesh is "unwilling" to cooperate, said a diplomat wishing to remain unnamed.

Bangladesh, China and Myanmar are in discussion to encourage the commencement of the Rohingya repatriation process.

One is the establishment of a tripartite joint working mechanism, directly led by the Ambassadors of China and Myanmar to Bangladesh and DG of Myanmar Wing of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh.

The tripartite joint working mechanism is aimed at delving into technical and operational difficulties in the repatriation process through "candid and frequent" discussions, said the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka. 

It said a common ground has been successfully identified during the first meeting of the joint working mechanism.

Bangladesh has been hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Cox's Bazar since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine state.

Not a single Rohingya was repatriated over the last two years due to Myanmar's "failure" to build confidence among Rohingyas and lack of a conducive environment in Rakhine state, officials here said.

Bangladesh has so far handed over names of over 1 lakh Rohingyas to Myanmar authorities for verification and subsequently is expediting their repatriation efforts but Myanmar is yet to take back its nationals from Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

The 3,450 Rohingyas who have been verified by Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Hindu Rohingyas and those living along the "zero-line" are prioritised groups for early repatriation, the Chinese Embassy said.