03 May 2019
The fourth meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the Repatriation of displaced Myanmar residents from Bangladesh to Myanmar was held in Nay Pyi Taw today the 3rd May 2019 with Secretary (Asia & Pacific) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, Mr. Mahbub Uz Zaman and U Myint Thu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar leading the respective sides.
The JWG held substantive discussion on all issues related to safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar residents to their homeland. The Bangladesh side emphasized on concrete steps for creating conducive environment in Rakhine State. Bangladesh particularly emphasized on removing legal and administrative barriers to ensure basic rights of the returnees including freedom of movement, guaranteeing their safety and security, and positive steps towards a well-defined time-bound pathway to citizenship that would encourage the Myanmar residents to return voluntarily. Bangladesh stressed on early start of physical repatriation and urged Myanmar to remove all barriers preventing commencement of repatriation. Both sides agreed to speed up verification process. Referring to dispute on eligibility of more than two thousand prospective returnees from the first batch of verification, Bangladesh proposed to host the first meeting of the dispute settlement mechanism soon to which Myanmar agreed.
Bangladesh highlighted the need for deeper engagement between Myanmar authorities and prospective returnees with a view to convincing and motivating them. To this effect, Bangladesh proposed visit of Myanmar delegations to Cox’s Bazar to directly engage with the displaced Myanmar residents sheltered there. Bangladesh also highlighted the need for allowing greater engagement of international community including ASEAN and interested partners in improving ground situation in the Rakhine state and proposed appropriate mechanism for coordination of actions among those actors to create greater confidence. Bangladesh also emphasized on the need for sharing verifiable information on ground situation in Rakhine so that prospective returnees can take informed decision.