Uncertainity looms over Rohingya return to Myanmar

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Former UN chief Kofi Annan urged the Security Council on Friday to push for the return to Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas who have been driven out in an army campaign.

Annan, who led an advisory commission to the Myanmar government, said world powers must work with the country’s military and civilian leaders to end the refugee crisis.

The Security Council is weighing action, possibly a resolution laying out demands, but diplomats have said China, a supporter of Myanmar’s former ruling junta, and Russia are opposed to such a measure.

A Rohingya refugee carries a baby ashore after arriving on mainland Bangladesh, on the Teknaf peninsula

“I hope the resolution that comes out urges the government to really press ahead and create conditions that would allow the refugees to return with dignity and with a sense of security,” Annan told reporters after a closed-door meeting with the council.

Security Council is weighing action, possibly a resolution laying out demands, but diplomats have said China, a supporter of Myanmar’s former ruling junta, and Russia are opposed to such a measure

“They should not be returned to camps. They should help rebuild,” he said.

More than 500,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, have since late August crossed into Bangladesh, fleeing military operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar authorities say they are rooting out Rohingya militants following attacks on police posts in late August.

The issue of the return of the Rohingyas is shaping up as a major hurdle.

A recent report by the UN human rights office accused Myanmar of seeking to permanently expel the Rohingya, by planting land mines at the border with Bangladesh.

“The international community is now beginning to put pressure on the military,” Annan said, adding that “military-to-military talks” were aimed at pressing Myanmar to rein in its operations.

Myanmar was ready to implement a repatriation plan after the Myanmar government had reached agreement with Bangladesh though the results of negotiation that cannot be predicted

He called on the council to agree with Myanmar on a “roadmap” and warned that without action “we are going to have a long-term festering problem” in the region that “can be very serious, down the line.”

In late August, Annan presented the final report of the advisory commission on Rakhine state that he chaired at the request of Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The report called for granting citizenship and other rights to the Rohingyas, who are stateless and have long faced discrimination in the Buddhist-majority nation.

Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine Vice-Chairman Dr Win Myat Aye said that they would receive back refugees who had fled immediately as soon as they had a reached agreement with Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan who will come to Myanmar in the last week of October.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan

The two countries agreed to receive those who were fleeing to Bangladesh after violent attacks in northern Rakhine under a 1992/93 agreement reached between the two countries.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan is coming to Myanmar on October 23 in order to discuss with his counterpart some points concerning the repatriation of these refugees.

Dr Win Myat Aye said, “We heard that Bangladesh had sent her representatives for renegotiation on the repatriation of refugees but I don’t know what their proposals are in detail. We will receive these refugees immediately as soon as we have reached an agreement with them in the last week of October.”

He added that Myanmar was ready to implement a repatriation plan after the Myanmar government had reached agreement with Bangladesh though the results of negotiation that cannot be predicted.

Reportedly, the Rakhine State Government is compiling a detailed list of people who fled to Bangladesh for repatriation by visiting Bangladesh although they have a previous list of those people.

Similarly Defence Services Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said that receiving Bengalis was subject to verification and also to the outcome of negotiations with the Bangladesh government.

Minister of the State Counsellor Office Kyaw Tint Swe visited Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier and he agreed the repatriation of these refugees to Myanmar during this tour.

With inputs from AFP & Mizzima

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