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27 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Rohingya crisis

Repatriation on ground set to miss time frame

HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Repatriation on ground
set to miss time frame

It is all but certain that the repatriation of Rohingyas will not begin within the two-month time frame set in the agreement on their return to their homes in Rakhine, government officials concerned told The Independent yesterday. Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Myanmar Minister attached with state counselor’s office Kyaw Tint Swe signed the deal on behalf of the respective side titled “Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State” on November 23, in Naypyidaw. It might be delayed by 10-15 days, which means the repatriation will not begin before the first or second week of February, they said.

To a question, the officials added that they are not reading too much into the delay as long as there is no uncertainty regarding the repatriation. Meanwhile, it has been learnt from different sources that the Bangladesh-Myanmar joint working group, formed on December 19, will not be able to sit before the second week of January.

The main agenda of the maiden meeting of the joint working group after its formation, expected to be held either in Yangon or Nay Pyi Taw of Myanmar from January 10-15, will be to talk and fix the physical arrangement for the repatriation of the Rohingyas, who had to take shelter in Cox’s Bazar to escape the atrocities of the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and people belonging to other ethnic groups in Rakhine.

This repatriation is concerning only about 8.67 lakh Rohingyas, who crossed the border since August 25 this year and October, last year. “We are planning to hold the meeting of the joint working group between January 10 and 15 in Myanmar. It will be either in Naypyidaw or Yangon,” said a senior government official concerned.

“The highlight of the meeting will, of course, be the physical arrangement for the repatriation,” he said. Another official said, “We have a date in our minds from January 10 to 15. Let’s see. Before that meeting, our fifteen members will sit for talks either in this week or the next.”

To a question, the officials admitted that it is most likely that the two-month time frame stipulated in the agreement is going to be missed.

“Given the gravity of the situation and already decade-old existence of the protracted problem, another 10-15 days are not going to be a big deal,” said an official, adding, “The repatriation is the main thing here and undoubtedly, we want this to begin as soon as possible.” The joint working group consists of 15 members each from both Bangladesh and Myanmar. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Huq will head the Bangladesh side while the Myanmar

side will be headed by permanent secretary of its foreign ministry Myint Thu. The agreed terms of reference (ToR) mandates the joint working group to undertake all necessary measures to start the safe and voluntary return, resettlement and reintegration process of displaced Myanmar residents as envisaged in the repatriation deal.

The working group will develop physical arrangement for return, which would include mechanism of verification, time schedule, transport and logistics arrangement, reception procedures, communication etc. to commence the repatriation process within the stipulated time frame mentioned in the “Arrangement”, state the terms of reference. The joint group will assess the process and report to the respective governments quarterly.

The joint working group will take assistance of the UNHCR and other mandated UN agencies and interested international partners in various stages of repatriation.

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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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