Bangladesh: Myanmar says it's ready to take back Rohingya

Bangladesh: Myanmar says it's ready to take back Rohingya

In this Jan 14, 2018 photo, a volunteer carries a malnourished child from a newly arrived Rohingya family to a transit camp in the Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (AP photo)

DHAKA, Bangladesh: A Myanmar minister told Bangladesh’s president that Myanmar is ready to take back Rohingya Muslims who fled violence, though Bangladesh said it wanted the hundreds of thousands of refugees to have a safe and dignified return.

Myanmar’s Home Minister Kyaw Swe, on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, told President Abdul Hamid that Myanmar was ready to take back Rohingya under a deal the countries signed late last year, presidential spokesman Joynal Abedin said Friday.

Mr Abedin also quoted the minister as saying that Myanmar will implement the recommendations by a commission led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

The spokesman said Mr Hamid expressed his concern for Rohingya and wanted a safe and dignified return of them as per the deal.

Mr Kyaw Swe is scheduled to meet his Bangladeshi counterpart Friday to discuss further.

A statement from the Home Ministry said Mr Kyaw Swe and the police, foreign ministry officials and others travelling with him intend to discuss border security, law enforcement and other issues.

Some 700,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since late August when Myanmar’s military launched a security crackdown that’s been widely criticised as amounting to ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar has said it launched “clearance” operations against terrorists and has dismissed as false allegations from witnesses and survivors that troops and Buddhist mobs engaged in killings and rapes of Rohingya and set fires that wiped out villages.

UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi told the Security Council on Tuesday that conditions aren’t right for Rohingya to voluntarily return because Myanmar hasn’t addressed their exclusion and denial of rights and citizenship. Grandi also said Rohingya were still fleeing Myanmar and thousands more were expected still to try to leave.

The repatriation was scheduled to begin in January but Bangladesh said it needed more time to prepare and the security situation was a concern.