For the first time since the Rohingya exodus of 2017 , a joint working committee of Bangladesh and Myanmar approached 1,000 refugees in the Cox’s Bazaar district, one of the largest refugee settlement, to discuss repatriation.
Myint Thu, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed the Myanmar team while M. Shahidul Haque, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh led the Bangladesh side, as reported by The Hindu.
Since 2017, 7,00,000 Rohingyas have fled the Rakhine State of Myanmar seeking refuge in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh had earlier submitted a list of 8,000, of which Myanmar has cleared 5,000 after due verification. The first 2,000 will be taken back in mid-November.
“We will construct reception centres. The returnees will have to stay there for about two days; after receiving the National Verification Card [NVC], you will be taken to model camps where you need to stay for five to six months. After completion of this period, you will be allowed to rehabilitate to your old land, besides this, you will able to enjoy some facilities such as fishing, trading, moving, treatment and even your children can obtain an education. We are ready to receive you.” Mr Thu said.
However, the committee of refugees, Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights [ARSPH] have placed seven demands to the joint committee in the form of a letter to Ms Aang Sang Suu Kyi making it clear that they are afraid to go back.
The demands are: Rohingyas must be accepted as one of the 135 official ethnic groups, complete abolition of NVC and restoration of full citizenship, the right to security in line with international laws, release of arbitrarily held prisoners, compensation and reparation for lives lost and injuries inflicted, removing ‘innocent’ Rohingyas from the list of terrorists and and return of all displaced and internally displaced persons (IDP) living in Rakhine.
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