Dhaka, Bangladesh
Rohingya repat about to start

Rohingya repat about to start

Admin readies first batch to send back

News Report: Scepticism still cloaks the set start of Rohingya repatriation today but government and UN officials concerned said the preparations were all complete and expressed their optimism.
Last-minute groundwork came to an end Wednesday with the interview of a total of 126 families over the last two days. But the camp inmates were afraid to speak freely as some 'armed Rohingya groups' are threatening them with dire consequences if they opted to go back sans fulfilling all their demands.
"Eager to go back to own country," said Jobair, one of the refugees interviewee by the joint team of refugee relief and repatriation commission and the UNHCR.
But citizenship and homestead have to be returned and right to free movement and safety guaranteed, he added.
Some sources, however, said many of the listed returnees kept a secret their readiness to return, as the agencies concerned convinced them with assurances received from the Myanmar government.

As part of the confidence-building measures, the UN refugee agency distributed leaflets in the camps on the assurances from the Myanmar side about the rights they will get immediately and in phases, reports News Today Cox's Bazar correspondent Mamtaz Uddin Bahari.
"We are confident repatriation will begin on August 22 (as scheduled)," said Abul Kalam, the refugee relief and repatriation commissioner based in Cox's Bazar.
Officials said two transit camps had already been set up at Kerantoli in Teknaf and Ghumdhum in Naikhyangchhari for sending back the Rohingyas.
What finally comes out of all this now remains a matter of suspense, analysts say.
The undertone of pessimism still marked the prelude as reports say some local and international NGOs also discourage them from returning to their homes in Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen also expressed such view Tuesday, while speaking about government preparedness for the start.
He had an exchange of opinion on this matter, too, with visiting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during their meeting. The return of Rohingyas to their place of origin is also India's 'national interest' along with Bangladesh and Myanmar, Jaishankar said.
Hopes for a breakthrough went high when media reports quoting a newswire said last Friday that Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation on August 22 with a group of 3,540 in the first go.
Hope ran high recently that return of the Rohingyas to their homeland could start "anytime" when a Myanmar-ASEAN joint mission sounded upbeat after their direct dialogue with the refugee representatives.
As the delegation concluded their visit, Bangladesh on July 30 handed them another list of 25,000 Rohingyas of 6,000 families for verification. A first list of 30,000 was given earlier, and 8,000 of them were cleared for repatriation.
However, the scheduled departure of the first batch last November stalled as the camp-dwellers backtracked in views of reported unwarranted situation afresh in Rakhine-their home state in Myanmar.
"Now the repatriation is going to start on the basis of a Bangladesh-Myanmar understanding," says a media report quoting officials. "But return is not coercive."
The latest move came following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent visit to China and Japan, two of Myanmar's close allies who want a bilateral solution to the crisis.
The Rohingya influx started anew two years ago on August 25.
A Reuters report said a total of 3,540 refugees had been cleared for return by Myanmar from a list of more than 22,000 names recently sent by Bangladesh. Officials from both countries said this.
"We have agreed to the repatriation of 3,540 people on August 22," Myint Thu, a spokesman for Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the news agency.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam then had said he "heard something like this".
Nearly 750,000 Rohingyas fled Rakhine into Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017. The United Nations said the perpetrator had "genocidal intent".
The refugees say they want to return to Myanmar, but seek 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.
Lots of developments have taken place at various levels and forums on local, regional and global planes for an end to the 'statelessness' of the minority ethnic group and their repatriation.
If such a gamut of developments at national, international, bilateral and multilateral planes is any indication, the start of the stalled Rohingya-repatriation process may not fail this time, analysts say.
Only subjective condition among the camp-dwellers along Bangladesh's southeastern frontier terrain remained to be created-and the simultaneous mission of the Myanmar delegation and the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre or AHA Centre may lead to the thaw of the ice.
The Southeast Asian bloc-ASEAN-which also groups Myanmar, and is dominated by Malaysia, is critical of the member-country over the Rohingya plight and now tries for their return to homes in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Now Turkey also expressed willingness to help the repatriation process.
Among the objective conditions are a bilateral agreement-brokered by China-- between Bangladesh and Myanmar on repatriation of the Rohingyas and barracks-type homes built over there, including a substantial number constructed and handed over by India.
A coalition of China and Russia accompanied by India headed off Bangladesh from the United Nations where the host country had moved for an international solution to the crisis it is forced on. The trinity promotes a bilateral solution, and China mediated negotiations that led to the deal.
The process had suffered a sort of setback for disagreement of the refugees to return unless and until citizenship and proven security are guaranteed and apparent apathy on part of Myanmar to takes convincing measures to that end.
The OIC has taken the lead and the International Court of Justice obtained the mandate for opening probe into Rohingya repression and banishment. Another major bloc, the European Union, also has initiated moves for "safe and secure" Rohingya repatriation with due dignity-exactly what the distressed people want.
All the more significant yet is a move by the United States. The superpower has imposed sanctions on the Myanmar generals and pleads for trial of all those involved in what is dubbed as 'ethnic cleansing'.
The US has gone thus far to propose the creation of a separate state in the block centering Rakhine. Some of the foreign-relations experts took it with all seriousness, citing the creation of East Timor and South Sudan smaller states.

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