Rohingya return will be in ‘voluntary, dignified and safe’ manner: Bangladesh

Bangladesh has reitered its position that Rohingya repatriation will be “voluntary, dignified and safe”, dispelling the concern of the aid agencies and some rights groups.

Nurul Islam
Published : 16 Jan 2018, 02:16 PM
Updated : 16 Jan 2018, 02:30 PM

"Bangladesh will not risk its reputation by forcing Rohingyas back to Myanmar," State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shariar Alam said, adding "the return will be in voluntary, dignified and safe”.

“From the beginning of our discussion with Myanmar and signing of the first deal on Nov 23, we have said that the repatriation will be in a voluntary, dignified and safe manner,” Shahriar told on Tuesday.

“There is no scope of expressing concerns on that,” he said as the two neighbours signed the “physical arrangement” deal on Tuesday on how to repatriate the Rohingyas within two years of the start the process.

But after the signing ceremony, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, came up with a reaction saying that "they want to be part of the talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure international standards in repatriation."

“To ensure that the refugees are heard and their protection guaranteed in Bangladesh and on return in Myanmar, we are willing to be part of these discussions,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a media briefing in Geneva.

The state minister said they will involve UNHCR when needed. It was decided when the Joint Working Group was formed.

“We’ll involve them [UNHCR] based on the ground reality. We’ll analyse the situation and involve them when needed,” he said.

“We’ll do the best possible way to send them back to their country in safe manner,” he said.

“Our prime minister has given them shelter on humanitarian ground which was applauded by the international community. We’ll not risk that reputation,” he added.

The deals with Myanmar followed the unprecedented exodus of Rohingyas from Rakhine State since Aug 25 last year. More than one million people of those ethnic Muslims have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

Both countries on Tuesday at the Joint Working Group agreed to complete the repatriation in two years from the start of the process.

The meeting also finalised the “form” for verification. Modalities for repatriation of orphans and children born out of unwarranted incidents have been incorporated in the deal.

Under the 'Physical Arrangement', Bangladesh would establish five transit camps from which returnees would be received initially in two reception centres on the Myanmar side, the foreign ministry, earlier, said.