UN-Myanmar to sign deal on Rohingya return next week
Banglapress, New York: The UN and Myanmar have agreed on details of a deal on repatriating the Rohingyas, who have fled to Bangladesh following a military crackdown in the Northern Rakhine.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a media release on Thursday that tripartite MoU between it, the UNDP and the Myanmar government is expected to be signed next week.
“The MoU, once signed, will affirm the Myanmar government’s commitment to work with UNHCR and UNDP to find a solution for the Rohingya population, in line with the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State”, reads the statement.
It said that UNHCR will be allowed access to Rakhine to assess the conditions on the ground following the deal.
According to the UN refugee agency, the recommendations include a pathway to citizenship and ensuring free movement of all people in Rakhine, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or citizenship status.
“This tripartite Memorandum will establish a framework for cooperation aimed at creating the conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin or of their choosing,” the statement says.
On Apr 13, 2018, Bangladesh and UNHCR also signed a MoU relating to voluntary returns of Rohingya refugees once conditions in Myanmar are deemed conducive.
Myanmar’s government said in a brief statement late on Thursday the MoU would be signed “soon” and UN agencies would “support access to livelihoods through the design and implementation of community-based interventions”, reports Reuters.
It said that Myanmar civilian government spokesman Zaw Htay said he had nothing to add to the statement.
Rohingya children carry supplies through Balukhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, October 23, 2017. REUTERSMyanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete the voluntary repatriation by two years but differences between the two sides persist, impeding implementation of the plan.
Senior UNHCR official George William Okoth-Obbo told the media in Dhaka after a five-day visit to Rohingya camps that conditions in Myanmar were not suitable for ‘safe and sustainable return’, Reuters reported.
Okoth-Obbo said an immediate challenge for humanitarian agencies was to relocate 200were0 Rohingyas threatened by seasonal monsoon flooding and landslides to a safer place.
Myanmar to open probe on Rakhine violence
Hours after the UNHCR announcement, Myanmar president’s office said it has decided to form an enquiry panel to investigate the violation of human rights in Rakhine following the insurgent attacks.
A statement issued late on Thursday said that it will establish an ‘Independent Commission of Enquiry’.
Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel in Inn Din village, northern Rakhine, Myanmar, Sept 1, 2017. REUTERSIt described the commission as part of a national initiative to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in Rakhine.
“The Independent Commission will investigate the violation of human rights and related issues following the terrorist attacks by ARSA,” the statement reads.
It added the three-strong panel will include an ‘international personality’ and that it will be assisted local as well as international legal and technical experts.
Since August 2017, some 700,000 Rohingyas have fled a military crackdown in Rakhine with many reporting killings, rape and arson on a large scale.
The United Nations and aid agencies have described the crackdown on the Rohingya as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, an accusation Myanmar rejects.
Myanmar has for years denied Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic services such as healthcare. Many in Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from mostly Muslim Bangladesh.