Neighbours trade repatriation charges

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