Rohingya repatriation to begin by mid-Nov

DHAKA: Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Tuesday to begin by November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar army crackdown, though doubts about a speedy return are likely to persist.
More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed from the west of Myanmar into Bangladesh from August last year after Rohingya insurgent attacks on the Myanmar security forces triggered a sweeping military response.
“We are looking forward to start the repatriation by mid-November,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters in Dhaka after a meeting with Myanmar delegation led by senior foreign ministry official Myint Thu.
Myint Thu hailed what he called a “very concrete result on the commencement of the repatriation.”
“We have put in place a number of measures to make sure that the returnees will have a secure environment for their return,” he told reporters.
But rights groups and Rohingya community leaders say conditions back in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where most of the refugees are from, are not ready for a repatriation.
Leaders of the largely stateless Rohingya community have said they will not return without various demands being met, including the rights to Myanmar citizenship.
“We have some demands but the government of Myanmar didn’t do anything to meet them. How can we go back?” Mohib Ullah, a Rohingya leader now living in southeast Bangladesh, said.
“What about our citizenships, our rights and our demand to go back to our land… our own houses?”
The Myanmar delegation will visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Bangladesh’s foreign minister said Myanmar had cleared the list of 8,000 Rohingya people sent by Dhaka for verification after last year’s deal. — Reuters