Bangladesh has said the Rohingya unwillingness to return to their homeland stems from the failure of Myanmar to keep its end of the bargain.
“As per bilateral instruments on repatriation, the responsibility of encouraging the displaced people to opt for voluntary return lies entirely on Myanmar,” the foreign office said in a statement.
“It is Myanmar’s responsibility to create a conducive environment in Rakhine through decisive actions and to reduce trust-deficit of Rohingyas through appropriate measures including dissemination of authentic information on the ground reality.
“The non-commencement of repatriation due to unwillingness of the people concerned could therefore be attributed to the failure of the Government of Myanmar in fulfilling its obligations,” it said.
The statement followed the postponement of the latest repatriation process which was scheduled to begin on Aug 22, three days before the anniversary of the launch of a a massive military-led crackdown that forced over 740,000 Rohingyas to flee the Rakhine State in 2017.
Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed deals following which two attempts have been made to start voluntary return. But none wanted to go back.
Myanmar has been accusing Bangladesh of “non-cooperation”, a claim that the foreign ministry found “ill-motivated and totally unacceptable”.
“The government of Bangladesh maintains its principled position of not preventing anyone, regardless of one’s ethnic and religious identity, who intends to return to Myanmar anytime.”
“In fact, the government of Myanmar needs to take decisive actions with demonstrable political will to reasonably address the core concerns of Rohingyas in line with the spirit and provisions of the bilateral instruments on repatriation and the recommendations of the “Advisory Commission on Rakhine State” in order to create a conducive environment for return in northern Rakhine.
“The government of Myanmar must also assume its responsibility to encourage Rohingyas to opt for voluntary return by sharing authentic information with them in all possible ways.
“Unsubstantiated claims on the part of the government of Myanmar are not going to contribute to repatriation,” the foreign ministry said, describing the background of the latest failed repatriation bid.
Bangladesh agreed to facilitate the commencement of repatriation on Aug 22 in view of Myanmar’s repeated claim that they are prepared to receive them, the statement said.
And it was also due to the recent interactions of a high-level delegation from Myanmar with the representatives of displaced people at camps in Cox’s Bazar on July 27-28 to convince the displaced people to return, it said.
Following that, the government handed the list of 3,450 individuals so far verified by Myanmar to UNHCR through the United Nations resident coordinator in Dhaka on Aug 8 to ascertain whether these people are ready to return voluntarily to northern Rakhine under the present circumstances, according to the statement.
The government of Bangladesh ensured all necessary arrangements in Bangladesh side including security and logistics for voluntary return of the Rohingya to northern Rakhine, it said.
Out of the 3,450 Rohingya cleared by Bangladesh, UNHCR interviewed 339 families comprising 1,276 individuals till Aug 22, the foreign ministry said.
“In the interview process, all available information and the fact-sheets provided by the government of Myanmar were shared with the families concerned.
“Moreover, adequate measures including security arrangements were ensured so that the people concerned could freely express their intent.
“Unfortunately, none of the families interviewed agreed to return in the present circumstances, as they consider the security situation and overall environment in Rakhine not yet conducive to their return.
“Almost all the families interviewed expressed their deep concern over the security situation in Rakhine.
“Overwhelming majority of the families underscored the