The process of repatriating Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Burma will begin sometime in late December, provided all the paperwork is in order, said Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of Burma’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, and Population, speaking to state media earlier today.
“Myanmar will be ready to start accepting refugees by the end of December,” he said. “One thing, however, is that the registration forms have not yet been sent back to us from Bangladesh. It is important that we receive these completed forms with photographs attached as soon as possible. After processing the forms, the camps will start accepting refugees in a timely manner.”
The registration forms in question were apparently sent over by the Burmese government to their counterparts in Bangladesh for distribution to some or all of the more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims currently sheltering in makeshift camps around Cox’s Bazaar in southeastern Bangladesh.
Refugees who wish to return to Rakhine State in Burma are requested to fill in the information, including their names, parents’ names, relatives’ names, and addresses.
The construction of camps at two sites in Rakhine – Taungpyoletwei and Ngakhuya – is expected to be completed by the end of December.
The Burmese and Bangladeshi governments recently signed a memorandum of understanding to proceed with a repatriation programme for those who fled Rakhine State in recent months.
Both countries have agreed to accept logistical assistance from the UN’s refugee agency.
The mass exodus of Rohingya people from western Burma was precipitated by military operations in the region described by the UN and US as akin to ethnic cleansing.