11 August 2018
Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali, MP visits Rakhine State of Myanmar
Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, MP is now in Myanmar on a four-day visit to discuss issues related to the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals who took shelter in Bangladesh and to learn about Myanmar’s preparation for repatriation of Rohingyas. The Foreign Minister is accompanied by the Bangladesh members of the Joint Working Group on repatriation including Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary. The meeting was held in a friendly environment.
Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali MP had a meeting with Mr. U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister of the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar in the morning of 10th August in Nay Pyi Taw. This was followed by a Ministerial meeting between the two sides. Bangladesh side was led by the Foreign Minister while the Myanmar side was led by the Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe. Later in the afternoon, the Foreign Minister paid a courtesy call on the Vice President of the Union of Myanmar H. E. Mr. U Myint Swe.
At the bilateral meeting, various aspects and challenges concerning the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals were discussed at length. Both sides have agreed on the need for delivering on the commitments made by parties and speed up implementation of the bilateral instruments on repatriation concluded between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Bangladesh Foreign Minister emphasized on the need for accelerating effort for creating conducive environment in the northern Rakhine State and building houses and villages for the returnees to facilitate repatriation. Myanmar highlighted setting up of two reception centers, one transit camp, and engagement with UNHCR & UNDP and other initiatives as proof of her readiness to receive the returnees. Union Minister of Myanmar showed keen interest on starting repatriation at the earliest. Myanmar side also informed that houses for the returnees are being built at selected locations and more will be built. They further informed that 42 sites have so far been identified for resettlement of displaced people from Rakhine State sheltered in Bangladesh.
Both sides reached understanding on wide distribution of verification forms among the prospective returnees, building of the remaining reception center at the Bangladesh side as agreed in the bilateral arrangements. It was also agreed that a hotline between the two ministers would be established. Bangladesh requested Myanmar to take steps to address unwillingness of prospective returnees to accept the National Verification Card (NVC). Myanmar agreed to send teams to the camps in Cox’s Bazar to explain advantages of holding NVC and to disseminate information on various steps taken by Myanmar in connection with repatriation.
While both sides agree on the need for early settlement of the displaced people currently staying at the boundary line (Zero line) between border pillars 34 and 35 to their original villages. Myanmar particularly requested Bangladesh to stop providing humanitarian assistance to those people by ICRC/UNDP/INGOs from Bangladesh side and proposed to arrange supply of humanitarian assistance from Myanmar side. Bangladesh responded positively to the Myanmar’s proposal to conduct fresh joint survey of the boundary line between border pillars 34 and 35.
Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism and fight against narcotic drug trafficking.
In the late afternoon, Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali and the delegation attended a briefing session by the Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Vice Chairman of the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Rehabilitation, and Development (UEHRD) on the development and livelihood measures introduced by Myanmar Government for the Rakhine State.
Today, Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali along with JWG members visited northern Rakhine State accompanied by the Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar. He was taken to the border on the Myanmar side where few thousand displaced Myanmar nationals have been staying at the zero line. Foreign Minister also visited reception centers at Taung Pyo Let Yar and Nga Khu Ya, the Transit camp at Hla Poe Kaung having thirty thousand capacity, to demonstrate Myanmar’s preparation to receive the returnees. Bangladesh Foreign Minister also visited Shwe Zar village where around 148 pre-fabricated houses for returnees are being built with assistance from the Government of India. He visited Pan Taw Pyin village from where most of the 15000 inhabitants fled to Bangladesh. The Minister was informed that remaining Muslims and peoples of Buddhist and Hindu faith are currently living there. Myanmar Government has built 22 houses for internally displaced people and around 50 more houses for the returnees in the village. Foreign Minister also visited Kain gGyi village inhabited by ethnic Rakhine and Mro people. Bangladesh delegation also saw the trail of wide-spread devastation suffered by the people of the northen Rakhine State.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister will leave Myanmar tomorrow 12 August 2018.