Joint working group formed for Rohingya repatriation

DHAKA, Bangladesh

A joint working group under Chinese mediation of China has been formed between Bangladesh and Myanmar to give new life to the stalled Rohingya repatriation process, according to media reports and Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry sources.

The decision came at a Foreign Ministry-level meeting of Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar in New York on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly on Monday evening.

The group will sort out ways to ensure a suitable environment in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for peaceful and sustainable Rohingya repatriation, broadcast and print media reported from New York, citing sources from the meeting.

“From now on China will jointly work with Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities in the Rohingya repatriation process,” Bangla daily Prothom Alo cited Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen as saying following the meeting.

Momen added that without a solution to the Rohingya crisis there is huge risk of rising radicalism in the “whole region”.

At the trilateral meeting Bangladesh and Myanmar gave their stances and views on the latest state of the Rohingya issue, said diplomatic sources cited by the daily.

China proposed the formation of a joint working group to sort out ways of developing the environment in Rakhine, Myanmar for the peaceful and sustainable return of the persecuted Rohingya to their original home.

Using the group, the crisis will be dealt with bilaterally while Bangladesh will update and try to persuade Rohingya on the repatriation process, while China will constantly stay involved in the process, the report added.

The joint working group would hold its first official meeting sometime in the coming month, but no venue has been set, according to Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry sources.

Several earlier repatriation moves failed due to Rohingya’s reluctance on the grounds of fears for their safety and desire for their dignity and citizenship rights to be guaranteed.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, more than 34,000 were thrown into fires and over 114,000 others were beaten by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
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