Dr. Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, spoke about the repatriation of displaced persons (DPs) with Bangladeshi Minister for Foreign Affairs Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP and Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan MP at the National Guest House in Dhaka on 12 April.
At the meeting, the Union Minister explained that Myanmar was ready for the repatriation process, and he had met with DPs in Cox’s Bazar, who mentioned they were yet to receive the forms for the repatriation process. He told the Bangladesh ministers that the forms received by Myanmar for 8,032 individuals were not the physically arranged ones agreed upon by both countries. The DPs did not produce signed documents stating they were returning of their own free will, nor fingerprints and individual photographs in the documents sent to Myanmar, he stated.
The Union Minister said it was difficult for Myanmar to check and verify data owing to the lack of information. He said Myanmar had informed Bangladesh about these problems thrice, and so far, the Myanmar authorities have confirmed 675 individuals as having lived in the country before. He said the list had been sent to the Bangladesh authorities, but they have not responded yet.
The Union Minister said both countries have to work together for the repatriation of DPs settled in the border areas. As the handling of the border areas can cause misunderstandings, it is important for the relevant departments in both countries to discuss these issues transparently, he noted. He said Myanmar was working with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the development and resettlement projects in Rakhine State.
Later, Prof. Dr. Aung Tun Thet, Chief Coordinator of the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine State (UERHD), explained in detail the repatriation process, development projects and the prospects for Rakhine State.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister said they would send information about the DPs using the forms agreed upon by both countries as soon as possible.
The Bangladesh authorities will collaborate with Myanmar to handle the sensitive border area issues, he stated.
Union Minister Dr. Win Myat Aye and Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP then met the press and answered all the questions posed by the media.
Present at the meeting were UEHRD Chief Coordinator Prof. Dr. Aung Tun Thet, Myanmar Ambassador U Lwin Oo, Chairperson of Myanmar Women’s Affair Federation Dr. Thet Thet Zin, Director-General of Department of Disasters Management Dr. Ko Ko Naing, and Director-General of International Organizations and Economic Department U Kyaw Moe Tun.
Later, the Union Minister visited the Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka and met responsible officials of the UN agencies and discussed the implementation of advice given by the Rakhine Advisory Commission on the development in Rakhine, Myanmar’s readiness for repatriation, humanitarian aid provided in Rakhine State, the development efforts facilitated by the UEHRD, the construction of residential buildings, opening of vocational training classes, easy access to education and healthcare, and the planned closing of DP camps opened since 2012.
The Union Minister and the delegation had lunch at the Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka.
By Thura Zaw