Repatriation of the Rohingya refugees, who fled to Bangladesh following the brutal military crackdown in Myanmar since August 2017, will begin anytime, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said today.
“Repatriation [of Rohingyas] is always on the table. It can start anytime. It is a continuous process,” Shahidul Haque told journalists after a discussion in the capital.
He was replying to a query on whether the repatriation of Rohingyas will start on August 22 as reported by an international news agency.
Reuters on Thursday reported that Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to start a fresh attempt to the repatriation of Rohingyas on August 22.
The Red and Green Research, an initiative of journalists, organised the discussion titled ‘Rohingya Crisis: Way Forward’ at the BIISS auditorium.
Nearly 750,000 Rohingyas fled Rakhine for Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017. The United Nations said the perpetrators had “genocidal intent”.
Previous attempts at persuading the Rohingyas to return to Rakhine have failed due to opposition from refugees. An effort for the repatriation of Rohingyas in November 2018 failed after the refugees protested.
The refugees at that time said they want to return to Myanmar, but sought the guarantee of citizenship, UN-backed safe zone in Rakhine, recognition of their ethnicity as Rohingya and return to the place from where they were driven out.
“Repatriation [of Rohingyas] has always been one of the priority issues for Bangladesh. We are always saying that the peaceful solution to the crisis is that the Rohingyas return to their homeland. We have never suggested any alternatives,” Shahidul said.
He added that Bangladesh would try to encourage the Rohingyas to return to their homeland in next couple of weeks.