By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - A 15-member high-level delegation of Myanmar, led by Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary U Myint Thu, arrived in Bangladesh’s southern Cox’s Bazar district to meet Rohingya refugees on Saturday.
“The main purpose of the visiting team is to talk with Rohingya refugees in order to convince them to return to their home country [Myanmar]”, Md. Delwar Hossain, director general of South Asian Desk of Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
Hossain expressed hope that the Myanmar team would inform Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry about the outcome of the talk with Rohingya people.
“But we have no schedule for formal talks with the visiting delegation,” Hossain said, adding the visit may play a significant role in convincing Rohingya people to return to their homeland at Rakhine State in Myanmar.
In November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal, but no Rohingya person volunteered to return.
The host country Bangladesh has repeatedly said it would not force any Rohingya under the repatriation agreement.
International communities have also called on Bangladesh not to force Rohingya to return to Myanmar and that the whole process should be done on voluntary basis.
In November 2018, a formal move to start the repatriation process postponed as none of the Rohingya agreed to return to their country on the ground of lack of safety and dignity in Rakhine.
Meanwhile, A study conducted by Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), an Australia-based think tank, said on Wednesday that Myanmar has "minimal preparation" to support a safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees taking shelter in neighboring Bangladesh.
The research mapped the current status of 392 Rohingya settlements identified by the UN as damaged or destroyed during the 2017 crackdown and found more than 320 settlements with no sign of reconstruction, according to key findings of the report.
On Wednesday, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told reporters in the capital Dhaka that he hoped the “repatriation will begin by September [this year]”.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Abul Kalam Azad told Anadolu Agency Saturday morning that security was tightened at the refugee camp so that the delegation can peacefully complete their visit to the refugee camps.
- Persecuted people
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
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, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
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.