Asia Pacific / Social Issues

Myanmar lacks 'will' to repatriate Rohingya and hasn't dismantled refugee camps, Bangladesh says

AFP-JIJI

Bangladesh on Thursday accused Myanmar of lacking the “will” to repatriate the Rohingya, as the spat between the countries grew over the recent failed attempt to return the stateless minority to their homes.

Nearly a million Rohingya live in squalid camps in southeast Bangladesh, 740,000 of whom fled a 2017 military offensive against the Muslim minority in Myanmar.

A fresh push to repatriate the refugees to Myanmar fell flat last week, with no-one turning up to return across the border to conflict-scarred Rakhine state.

Briefing foreign diplomats in the capital Dhaka, Bangladesh’s foreign minister, A.K. Abdul Momen, questioned Naypyidaw’s resolve in taking back the Rohingya.

He said that Myanmar had failed to “effectively dismantle” the internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Rakhine and resettle people to their original homes.

The lack of action was a “clear manifestation of lack of will on the part of Myanmar to repatriate and integrate these persecuted people,” the foreign ministry said in a statement quoting Momen’s briefing to the diplomats.

The region remains riven by religious and ethnic conflict.

Myanmar earlier blamed Dhaka for the failure, saying it had not followed correct procedure when distributing “verification forms” to potential returnees — a controversial form of identification that falls short of granting Rohingya citizenship.

Bangladesh retorted saying Myanmar’s claims were baseless.

The two countries signed an agreement in November 2017 to send back all Rohingya who had fled to Bangladesh in the past two years. The first repatriation offer was rejected by refugee camp leaders in October.

The Rohingya are not recognized as an official minority by the Myanmar government, which considers them Bengali interlopers despite many families having lived in the country for generations.

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