Uncertainty grips Rohingyas as Myanmar approves 1,000 for repatriation

Bangladesh and Myanmar, along with international agencies, are engaged in negotiations over the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 May 2018

Uncertainty grips Rohingyas as Myanmar approves 1,000 for repatriation

  • Bangladesh and Myanmar, along with international agencies, are engaged in negotiations over the repatriation of Rohingya refugees
  • Three months after receiving the first list of 8,000 Rohingyas, Myanmar has approved only 1,000 for repatriation

DHAKA: “Myanmar is my birthplace and I want to go back to Rakhine,” said Abul Hashem, 38, a Rohingya refugee living in Kutupalang Camp in Cox’s Bazar district with his family. But before repatriation, he demands the right to citizenship of Myanmar.
“We want assurance for the basic five human rights — food, clothes, shelter, education and treatment. Otherwise, what will I do going back to Myanmar?” said Hashim to Arab News.
Bangladesh and Myanmar, along with international agencies, are engaged in negotiations over the repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
Three months after receiving the first list of 8,000 Rohingyas, Myanmar has approved only 1,000 for repatriation. The names have been finalized after going through seven phases of scrutiny by Myanmar.
“Our preparation for repatriation on ground level is going on and it is a continuous process,” said Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam.
He told Arab News that Bangladesh has already completed the physical structure of a “transit camp,” while the other one will be completed in the next three months. Rohingya refugees will be kept in these transit camps for hours or days during the final stage of repatriation.
In reality, the process of repatriation is moving very slowly. “It is because Myanmar is not responding promptly, particularly on this issue,” said a high official of Bangladesh Foreign Ministry who requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak about the issue.
Bangladesh authorities have so far been unclear about the fate of the 7,000 from the repatriation list who were not selected.
The two countries are set to hold a joint working group meeting on May 17 in Dhaka, where Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Myint Thu will represent their respective sides.
“Our prime and foremost agenda will be speedy repatriation of the Rohingya refugees,” said a Bangladesh Foreign Ministry source.
This slow process of repatriation has created much frustration among the diplomats in Dhaka.
“After three months they are accepting only 1,000 Rohingyas. It doesn’t reflect the seriousness of commitment,” said Humayun Kabir, former Bangladeshi ambassador to the US.
He added that the US tried to “push a strong decision” against Myanmar for grave human rights violations during the last UN Security Council session “but unfortunately it could not happen due to a veto by China as they suggested that the issue was resolved bilaterally,” said Humayun.
Bangladesh should increase its diplomatic engagement with China on the issue of Rohingya refugees, he suggested.
Although Bangladesh and the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, earlier signed a memorandum of understanding over repatriation process, there is no sign of significant development from the UNHCR in Bangladesh yet.
Caroline Gluck, the UNHCR spokesperson in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News that “a discussion is going on” with Myanmar to finalize the modalities of its engagement in the voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas as the UNHCR is trying to ensure safe repatriation at both ends of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Bangladesh currently hosts more than 1.3 million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District.


UN General Assembly: Trump says Abraham Accords brought optimism to Middle East

Updated 7 min 9 sec ago

UN General Assembly: Trump says Abraham Accords brought optimism to Middle East

  • US President flaunts regional foreign policy achievements to world leaders
  • Blames China for coronavirus pandemic as general debate gets underway

 

 

UNITED NATIONS: Donald Trump told world leaders Tuesday he “has never been more optimistic” about the future of the Middle East.

In his address to the UN General Assembly, the US president trumpeted his foreign policy achievements, particularly in the the regions.

He said the Abraham Accords signed between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain last week were groundbreaking and came thanks to a new approach by his administration.

“We reached a landmark breakthrough with two peace deals in the Middle East, after decades of no progress,” Trump said in his address delivered by video. 

“Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain all signed a historic peace agreement in the White House, with many other Middle Eastern countries to come. They are coming fast, and they know it’s great for them and it’s great for the world.”

Trump, who faces an election on Nov. 3, said during his presidency the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions on “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”

He said the US had “obliterated” Daesh and killed its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. He said under his watch the American forces had also taken out Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who he described as “the world’s top terrorist.”

Trump also took aim at China, blaming the superpower for unleashing the coronavirus pandemic on the world.

Speaking a shortly after Trump, China’s President Xi Jinping warned the world not to “politicize” the fight against coronavirus.

His speech came during the UN’s first virtual meeting of world leaders.

Among the speaking on Tuesday were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, and French president Emmanuel Macron.

Erdogan used his speech to signal Turkey's position on the eastern Mediterranean, where his country had been accused of provacoatively caarying out energy exploration in disputed waters.

From the Middle East, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani will take the virtual floor as his country comes under huge pressure from the US over the crumbling nuclear deal.

Jordan's King Abdullah II and the Emir of Qatar will also deliver their addresses.

After Monday's introductory session marking the UN's 75th anniversary, the “general debate” is the meeting's central event — speeches from each of its 193 member nations.

They traditionally serve as a platform for countries to tout accomplishments, seek support, stoke rivalries and express views on global priorities.

*With AP