Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Burma agrees to take back Rohingya refugees

Chittagong, Bangladesh: The newly formed government of Burma has agreed to take back Rohingya refugees currently staying at two refugee camps in Cox's Bazar under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) but no decision on the large number of unregistered Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes told a news conference on October 15.

"We discussed the issue of repatriation of Rohingya refugees during Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) meeting with Burmese Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Maung Myint in the Burmese capital Nay Pyi Taw on August 25, 2011."

“A huge number of undocumented Burmese nationals are living in Bangladesh without refugee status; referring to the unregistered Rohingyas.”

“Although the undocumented Burmese nationals do not have refugee status, we are not forcing them out of the country on humanitarian ground,” Quayes said, adding that the Burmese authorities have agreed to discuss the undocumented Burmese refugee ( Rohingya) later.

“Both governments are in discussion to launch synchronized patrol of the common border by border guards of the two countries to stop fresh influx of Burmese citizens into Bangladesh.”

“We will go back to our motherland if the Burmese authority gives us citizenship with Rohingya ethnic name and equal rights as other ethnics groups,” said a member of Nayapara camp committee who didn’t want to be mentioning his name.

“We also want our security when we go back to our homeland and we don’t want to flee from Burma to this country again.”

"The relations between the two nations are expected to have a new dimension following the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Burma to discuss Rohingya issue among others but the date of the trip has not been fixed yet," PM’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad told the press.

More than 28,000 Rohingyas are still living in two camps--- Nayapara and Kutupalong--- under Cox's Bazar, run by the UNHCR, who are the remnants of some nearly 300,000 refugees, who flocked into Bangladesh in 1991-92, alleging persecution by Burma’s military regime. Most of them were repatriated following the UNHCR's mediation.

Similarly 200,000 Rohingyas fled from Burma to Bangladesh in the 1978 for Operation King Dragon, who were repatriated following an agreement between Bangladesh and Burma with the UNHCR supervision under Hinthan (Brahminy) project.  .

According to different sources, there are more than 400,000 unregistered Rohingyas living among the local population, in slums and villages mostly throughout Cox's Bazar district but also in smaller numbers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Burma often agreed to take back the refugees in the past whenever the two countries’ officials met. However, the Rohingya refugees declined to return there, fearing fresh persecution by the concerned Burmese authorities. There is no significant political situation is changed though the elections was held last year, said a refugee leader.

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