Yangon, Aug 16 (IANS) Myanmar said on Friday it was prepared for Bangladesh to repatriate more than 3,600 Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Rakhine state two years ago after a military-led crackdown against the Muslim minority.
The Director-General of International Organizations and Economic Department at Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry, U Chan Aye, told Efe news that his country was ready to start the process next on August 22, but was waiting for the Bangladeshi side to confirm the date.
“If the process goes well, we will start with over 3,600 people,” he said, according to Efe news.
The move comes a year and a half after a major repatriation attempt floundered when refugees refused to return to the country they had fled amid fears of more violence, the report said.
The Rohingya mass exodus began on August 25, 2017, when Myanmar’s Army launched an offensive in Rakhine state – which borders Bangladesh – with the purported aim of suppressing Rohingya insurgents.
The minority group is not recognized by authorities in Nay Pyi Taw, who consider them to be Bangladeshi immigrants, and they therefore lack any pathway to Myanmarese citizenship despite having been present in the country for centuries.
The Rohingya people have also been subjected to widespread discrimination over the past decades by Buddhist nationalists who view the predominantly-Muslim group with mistrust.
Since the 2017 crackdown, almost a million Rohingya refugees – most of them women and children – languish amid poor sanitary conditions within sprawling refugee camps in Bangladeshi coastal city of Cox’s Bazaar.
UN observers have described the Army crackdown as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and “possible genocide” and underlined the need for a return process that is safe, dignified and voluntary.
Meanwhile, another 125,000 Rohingya still live in segregated conditions as internally-displaced persons within Rakhine since an outburst of religious violence in 2012.