Bangladesh and Myanmar sign pact to repatriate Rohingyas

Naypyitaw: Bangladesh and Myanmar finally signed an ‘instrument’ on Rohingya repatriation on Thursday with no ending deadline amid high hopes that the forcibly displaced Rohingyas will start returning to their homeland within the next two months.

The two neighbouring nations struck the instrument in the afternoon following a meeting between Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Thursday morning at Suu Kyi’s office, reports The Daily Star.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s Minister for State Counsellor’s office Kyauw Tint Swe signed the instrument. They also exchanged ratification of the boundary agreement 1998.

Minister Mahmood Ali made the disclosure of signing the ‘Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’ after they reached a much-sought consensus on the Rohingya repatriation.

Talking to UNB, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said the repatriation process will start soon. “This is the first step. We’ll start our second step work now.”

Asked about deadline, he said there is timeframe but he will tell details in Dhaka and it does not make it clear whether Myanmar agreed on specific timeframe for taking back all the Rohingyas.

When approached, a diplomat told UNB that there no such timeframe over completion of Rohingyas repatriation. “Our best efforts were there.”

The bilateral instrument was being negotiated by officials of the two countries for the last couple of months.

On Wednesday morning, the senior officials of both countries negotiated the draft at their level. Later in the afternoon, Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali and the Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe resolved the remaining issues and finalised the draft after discussion.

The ‘arrangement’ stipulates that the return shall commence within two months, said the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry in a statement.

A Joint Working Group will be established within three weeks of signing the ‘Arrangement’. A specific bilateral instrument (physical arrangement) for repatriation will be concluded in a speedy manner.

During the visit, Mahmood Ali and U Kyaw Tint Swe also exchanged the long-awaited “Instrument of Ratification” of the agreement on demarcation of the land section of the boundary north of the Naaf River concluded in 1998.

The two countries also signed “Supplementary Protocol on the demarcation of a fixed boundary in the Naaf River” earlier agreed in 2007.