Bangladesh Expects to Start Rohingya Repatriation to Myanmar in June

Bangladesh officials say they expect to begin a third effort to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in June, Voice of America reported.

The target date – seen as premature by many Rohingya – emerged from this week’s talks between the two countries under Chinese mediation.

“We proposed beginning the repatriation by March. But Myanmar said that for some logistical reasons they would need some more time,” said Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, who led the Bangladeshi side in the tripartite meeting Tuesday.

“Following our meeting, it appears, we would be able to begin the repatriation by June,” Momen told reporters in Dhaka.

Myanmar’s deputy minister for international cooperation U Hau Do Suan and China’s vice foreign minister Luo Zhaohui represented their respective countries in the 90-minute virtual meeting.

But many Rohingya in the sprawling refugee camps around Cox’s Bazar say they are unwilling to return to Myanmar before a series of long-standing demands are met.

“Myanmar has to guarantee to return the full citizenship rights to all Rohingya — this is our main demand,” said Jan Mohammad, a Rohingya refugee who fled to Bangladesh in 2017 and lives in the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.

“We all want to return to our native villages in Rakhine. Violent crimes were committed against the Rohingya in Rakhine that led to our exodus from Myanmar. All perpetrators have to be held accountable for their crimes, he told VOA. “And, there must be a neutral international security force to ensure our safety in Rakhine.”