June 16, 2013
MYANMAR would start repatriation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh but only after the situation in that country became stable. The conditional assurance came at the latest round of foreign office consultations held in Myanmar, between June 14 and 15.
There are presently 25,045 registered Rohingya refugees residing in two camps at Kutupalong and Noyapara waiting to be repatriated to Myanmar. Of them, around 9,000 were cleared by the Myanmar government in 2005. Although Bangladesh had never been for forced repatriation of refugees, we fail to see the reason of the foot dragging by the government of Myanmar even after lapse of eight years after according clearance. And the issue of ‘stability’ is a new caveat after the assurance given to the Bangladesh PM during her visit to Myanmar in December 2011to take back the Rohingyas.
For Bangladesh, the latest statement means little since the repatriation is predicated on the situation being stable in Myanmar. We feel that keeping stability in Myanmar is the sole responsibility of the government of Myanmar. And no international commitment should be made conditional to a situation whose description is highly subjective.
For a long time the issue of Rohingya repatriation to their country has been stalled on some excuse or the other by Myanmar, and the latest condition is apparently yet another ploy to dither on the issue. Not only should Myanmar start the process of repatriation immediately, it must also address the underlying causes for the problem, starting with the restoration of Rohingya citizenship.