Dhaka, Mar 29 (UNB) – Myanmar has agreed to engage UNHCR in the Rohingya repatriation and rehabilitation process which Dhaka sees as a progress.
Bangladesh already remains engaged with the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, to take support for smooth repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar which Myanmar did not want.
“It’s big progress that Myanmar got engaged with UNHCR. The UN has confirmed it to us. They are in discussion on the issue,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam told reporters on Thursday.
He said the government will send the new set of list consisting names of Rohingyas as Myanmar responded on first list.
He was talking to reporters after attending a seminar on the theme- ‘Upcoming 45th Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dhaka: Revisiting A Shared Journey' in the city.
The government will soon send the second list consisting of upto 10,000 names of Rohingyas to Myanmar as part of the repatriation process.
"It is a continuous process. We are preparing the list. We are sending lists of Rohingyas step by step,"Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam told UNB on Wednesday night.
He, however, did not want to tell the number saying they will continue to work on the issue as over 1 million Rohingyas are living in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh already handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of the displaced people to their homeland in Rakhine state.
Myanmar side, however, verified less than 400 of those and there is no sign of their repatriation yet.
Some 700,000 Rohingyas have taken shelter in Bangladesh since last August following an army crackdown that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing.
On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on 'Physical Arrangement' which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh but there is no significant progress over repatriation.
The 'Physical Arrangement' stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.
The State Minister said the current Rohingya crisis and the challenges facing the Muslim Ummah -- the conflicts, division, tension and instability of the Muslim world -- will get focus in the 45th Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC to be held here in May next.
"Protection of their (Rohingyas) rights and fundamental freedoms, will, therefore, remain a major preoccupation of this CFM," he said.
Certainly, Shahriar Alam said, the problems of terrorism and violent extremism, sectarian tendencies, hatred, prejudice and Islamophobia, massive humanitarian crises with forced displacements seriously -- affecting the rights and dignity of Muslim minorities like the Rakhine Muslims of Myanmar, persistent poverty and socio-economic backwardness of Muslim societies are OIC priorities.
The way the CFM is addressing these issues are through resolutions and proposals regarding political, economic, social, cultural and family affairs issues that are now under finalisation, he said.
The meetings of the Permanent Finance Committee, Economic, social, cultural and Family Affairs Commission (ICECS), and the Senior Officials in Jeddah this month have largely discussed these resolutions seeking to find solutions and approaches to the ongoing problems of the Muslim Ummah.
"We see these issues being approached under four broad ranges of draft resolutions: those relating to peace, conflict resolution, mediation and security; those relating to OIC economic and development agenda; those relating to minorities and humanitarian questions and those relating to OIC reforms," said the State Minister.
The Bangladesh International Institute of Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the seminar.
The Rohingya problem in its humanitarian and human rights aspects is going to get prominence.
There will be a separate sideline session on the humanitarian challenges of the Muslim world with special focus on the Rohingyas on May 6, and prior to that a visit to the Rohingya makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar will take place on May 4.
A comprehensive reform of the OIC and its system is a crying need of the day both for greater efficiency, dynamism and clout of the Organisation, said the State Minister.
"Bangladesh along with some other brotherly countries are working hard with their thoughts and proposals for OIC reforms in a number of areas," he said.
These are rules and procedures, organisational and Secretariat issues, their roles and mechanisms, recruitment rules, transparency initiatives, efficiency enhancement, observership and operationalisation of a number of new statutes, bodies and institutes are coming under these efforts.
"Discussions on these are going to take place in Dhaka," said the State Minister adding that they have many expectations.