MYANMAR last Wednesday (1) accused Bangladesh of delaying the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims who have fled Rakhine state since August, as conditions worsen for the stateless minority penned into squalid refugee camps.
After weeks of intense global pressure and UN accusations of ethnic cleansing, Myanmar finally agreed to take back Rohingya who meet “verification” standards.
But the criteria remains vague, raising fears that it will be used to restrict the number of returnees.
Last week, Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay pointed the finger at Bangladesh for allegedly delaying the repatriation of refugees.
“The Myanmar government already declared we are ready to receive (the refugees) at any time… but the Bangladeshi government is still considering the agreement between the two countries,” he said.
Dhaka has yet to send an official list of the Rohingya who have fled Rakhine since August 25, he added.
A senior Bangladesh foreign ministry official denied Dhaka was dragging its feet, saying the two countries were working to overcome differences in drafts of a repatriation agreement. Myanmar “were themselves not prepared”, the official said, requesting anonymity.
Myanmar has said Rohingya will have to prove prior residence in Rakhine in order to return – but this could be difficult for many members of a stateless minority who lack proper documentation