US wants Rohingyas return to Myanmar voluntarily

'Our goal is to ease human sufferings, address root causes'


Published: November 02, 2018 12:17:40 | Updated: November 02, 2018 19:36:07


Displaced Rohingya people at a makeshift camp in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar. UNB file photo

The United States has laid emphasis on the voluntary return of Rohingyas as Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to begin repatriation of the refugees in mid-November.

"We continue to call for accountability for those that were responsible, and we would look closely at any plans to ensure that it is in fact voluntary," Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson at US Department told reporters at a press briefing in Washington, DC.

He said it is important to them that their efforts remain focused on steps that would improve the situation for the Rohingya refugees and to hold accountable all those responsible for this.

"And our goal here is to ease human suffering and to address the root causes of conflict, violence, and abuse," the official said on Thursday.

A total of 2,260 Rohingyas of 485 families will be repatriated in the first phase as Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin their repatriation in mid-November, said a senior official here.

Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myint Thu, however, said that they have verified about 5,000 Rohingyas.

The joint working group members from both sides, including Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, visited Rohingya camps on Wednesday and talked to Rohingya representatives.

Rohingyas, however, said they will not go back to their place of origin in Rakhine if their basic rights, including citizenship and housing facilities, are not provided.

On Tuesday, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation of the first batch of Rohingyas by mid-November.

The third foreign secretary-level JWG meeting, held at State guesthouse Meghna in the city, was co-chaired by Permanent Secretary Myint Thu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and his Bangladesh counterpart Senior Secretary M ShahidulHaque of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After the third foreign secretary-level JWG meeting held at State guesthouse Meghna in the capital, Myanmar Permanent Secretary Myint Thu said they had a very friendly and candid meeting and came up with the “very concrete results” on the commencement of the repatriation, UNB reported.

“We’ve shown our political will, flexibility, and accommodation in order to commence the repatriation at the earliest possible dates,” he said.

The Myanmar official claimed they have streamlined lots of local directives to promote awareness on repatriation among the returnees.

“We’re also promoting public policy which includes police personnel together with the local communities to maintain and promote law and order,” he said, adding that they are also promoting awareness on the fundamental principles so that people can get access to justice system if they encounter any issue.

Bangladesh and Myanmar formed the Joint Working Group (JWG) on December 2017 to start the repatriation of Rohingya refugees by January 23, 2018.

In May, the Myanmar side urged the Bangladesh side to start the repatriation of the earlier verified 778 Muslims and 444 Hindus.

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