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22 October, 2018 06:08:44 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 October, 2018 08:18:41 AM
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Rohingya repatriation efforts could start early 2019: Malaysian FM

Independent Online Desk
Rohingya repatriation efforts could start early 2019: Malaysian FM
A Photo of Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah

After previous setbacks, Asean is coordinating efforts to send home one million Rohingya Muslims who are currently seeking shelter in Bangladesh by early next year.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said a team of Asean foreign ministers, led by Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, will be in Myanmar at the end of this month to hold talks on measures that will be implemented to bring the refugees back to Myanmar safely.

He said although one million Rohingya refugees is a huge number, once Asean puts its plans into motion, it will mark the first step towards ensuring that all of them return to Rakhine, Myanmar.

“Vivian will lead the team as the Asean chairman in 2018 along with Thailand’s foreign minister (who will assume the Asean chairmanship next year) together with other professionals will be in Mynmar to look into the repatriation process... .they will discuss with the Myanmar and Bangladeshi governments.

“Our target is early next year as soon as the monsoon season ends. The process has to begin in early 2019....I am not sure how fast we can complete it but that is secondary as the priority is to ensure the process takes-off or else the problem will never be solved.

“This is nothing new as efforts had been done in the past (to bring home the Rohingya Muslims) but it never materialised,” he told reporters after opening a workshop on strengthening professionalism for Bahasa Melayu teachers on Monday, reports New Straits Times.

Saifuddin said the safety of the Rohingya refugees have been always a major concern as there were some who tried to return from Bangladesh but were caught, tortured and imprisoned.

“Upon completing the repatriation efforts, maybe a special team can be stationed in Myanmar to monitor the situation on the ground so that the refugees who have returned can live in peace and know that they are safe,” he said, adding that the matter (special team) will be decided later.

Saifuddin was earlier asked to comment on Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu’s statement on Sunday that Myanmar could not regard the Rohingya ethnic issue as merely a domestic problem because Malaysia is also subjected to a spillover effect, with more than 100,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.

Meanwhile Saifuddin stressed that the money used for Rohingya children’s education in Malaysia was not from the government’s coffers but from non-governmental organisations which operate the education centres.

“To date, five NGOs have started offering education for Rohingya children. The funds were mostly contributions from international bodies. For example, we have Qatar Foundation which promised assistance and we are also looking at ways to secure more funds for education purposes.

“Previously there was an attempt to offer jobs to 300 Rohingya refugees in the country but the programme was unsuccessful so the Human Resources Ministry is now in the midst of looking into other measures to assist them to find jobs,” he said.

KK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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