Japan urges Myanmar to take 'more strenuous efforts' to repatriate Rohingyas | The Daily Star
04:53 PM, August 02, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:10 PM, August 02, 2019

Japan urges Myanmar to take 'more strenuous efforts' to repatriate Rohingyas

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has urged the Myanmar government to take "more strenuous efforts" to take Rohingyas back from Bangladesh to their place of origin in Rakhine State.

During his recent meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw, Minister Kono said the Japanese government would continue to encourage and urge Myanmar as "much as possible", said an official.

The Japanese Foreign Minister, who visited Bangladesh before his engagements with Myanmar leadership, said it is important to conduct the Independent Commission of Enquiry in a "transparent and credible" manner stressing the Myanmar government to act to that end.

On May 31 last year, the government of Myanmar announced to establish an Independent Commission of Enquiry, including an international personality, concerning the violation of human rights and related issues in Northern Rakhine State since 25 August 2017.

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population of Myanmar, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) agreed on the texts of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for repatriation and resettlement of the displaced persons to Northern Rakhine State.

The government of Japan welcomed it as "important key progress" towards improvement of the human rights and humanitarian situation and the "voluntary, safe and dignified" repatriation of Rohingyas to Northern Rakhine State.

The Japanese Foreign Minister, in his latest meeting with Suu Kyi, vowed to continue their efforts to help resolve the Rohingya problem by joining hands with the Myanmar government.

Both the leaders exchanged views over the situation in Rakhine State and discussed the efforts to take Rohingyas back from Bangladesh.

He hoped that the Myanmar government would "accelerate" its implementation efforts, including the work of the ICOE - Independent Commission of Enquiry.

The Myanmar State Counsellor, however, in the meeting, described the problem of Rohingyas as a "bilateral issue" between Bangladesh and Myanmar and appreciated Japanese kind offer to help resolve the problem.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kono also shared his experience of visiting Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar where he spent almost two hours.

Minister Kono, during a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen here on Wednesday, shared some "preliminary ideas" that can help expedite the Rohingya repatriation process as the country, being common friend of Bangladesh and Myanmar, does not want to see "prolongation" of the Rohingya situation.

"Minister Kono clearly mentioned that we don't want prolongation of this situation. We do hope that the situation (repatriation process) will be expedited," said Deputy Press Secretary of the Japanese government Jun Saito.

While talking to a small group of journalists, including the UNB correspondent, the spokesperson of Japanese Foreign Minister's visit said and Minister Kono wants to play a certain role in expediting the "situation" (Rohingya repatriation process).

Responding to a question, the Japanese official said Minister Kono did not use the specific word "mediation" but used the world "dialogue" that Japan can promote between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

"When he (Minister Kono) visits this region, it's always Bangladesh and Myanmar. He never visits just one," Saito said asking reporters not to expect any breaking news instantly but perhaps there is some development on that in the coming days.

On May 29, Prime Minister Abe held a 50-minute meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in Japan, and discussed ways to find a "durable and early solution" to the Rohingya crisis.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered the country since August 25, 2017.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.

On January 16, 2018 Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on "Physical Arrangement", which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

The "Physical Arrangement" stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.

The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on November 15 last year but it was halted amid unwillingness of Rohingyas to return for lack of a congenial environment in Rakhine.

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