Myanmar officials try to convince Rohingya to return, accept ID cards

Reuters
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) Published: Nov 01, 2018, 10:53 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Rohingya people said after Wednesday's meeting with Myanmar officials that they were unconvinced about the proposed repatriation as they want Myanmar to recognise them as an ethnic group with the right to Myanmar citizenship before they return.

Myanmar officials visited camps for Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh on Wednesday (October 31) in an effort to kickstart a process to repatriate hundreds of thousands who fled an army crackdown last year.

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from western Myanmar, UN agencies say, after Rohingya insurgent attacks on Myanmar security forces in August 2017 triggered a sweeping military response.

Officials said after meetings in Dhaka on Tuesday (October 30) returns would begin next month, but the UN refugee agency said conditions in Rakhine state were "not yet conducive for returns".

Myint Thu, permanent secretary at Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and leader of the Myanmar delegation, said Myanmar had verified about 5,000 names of refugees and that repatriation would begin with a first batch of 2,000 returnees in mid-November.

"We are here to meet with the people from the camps so that I can explain what we have prepared for their return and then I can listen to their voices," he told reporters in Cox's Bazaar.

Rohingya people said after Wednesday's meeting that they were unconvinced about the proposed repatriation as they want Myanmar to recognise them as an ethnic group with the right to Myanmar citizenship before they return.

Myanmar does not consider the Rohingya a native ethnic group. Many in the Buddhist-majority country call the Rohingya "Bengalis", suggesting they belong in Bangladesh.

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