Monday, 28 September 2020

Teknaf, Bangladesh: A delegation led by Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes visited Burmese refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district on December 26, at noon. They were surveying the situation in the camps, said a camp refugee committee member.

The Foreign Secretary was accompanied by a representative of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), country representative Saber Azam of UNHCR, Dhaka, and Mr. Stapen, the head of Sub-UNHCR office of Cox’s Bazar.

The camps visited were the Nayapara official camp, Leda Tal (unofficial camp) under supervision of the Islamic Relief Worldwide, Kutupalong official camp and Kutupalong unofficial camp. They inspected the new shed construction and were escorted by the camp police and policemen from Teknaf police station.  

U Maung Myint, the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister leading a five- member delegation will arrive in Dhaka today on a two-day visit. Tomorrow, they will discuss several issues regarding the two countries.  Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes will lead the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting, according to sources.

They will discuss the issue of Rohingya repatriation, border trade, demarcation of the land boundary, delimitation of the maritime boundary, border fencing, issuing of border pass and cooperation in the agricultural sector, establishing of an air route from Dhaka to Rangoon, eliminating problems relating to business Visa, introduction (L/C) direct letters of credit and setting up a direct road link between the two neighboring countries.

The Bangladesh Foreign Secretary visited the Burmese refugee camps to survey the actual situation of the Rohingya people, said a refugee leader from Kutupalong camp.

According to official sources, Dhaka might also ask for assurance from the Burmese authorities that Burma will not encroach Bangladesh's maritime boundary. Although Bangladesh went to the UN tribunal to settle the maritime dispute, Dhaka would continue talks with both India and Burma bilaterally.

Repatriation of Rohingya refugees has remained a major irritant between the two countries since 1992, when over a million people fled from Burma’s Northern Arakan state and took shelter in bordering Bangladesh to escape persecution. Officials said Dhaka will talk about repatriation of nearly 29,000 Rohingya refugees and stopping the pushback by Burma. The refugees are living in two camps in Cox's Bazar.

A senior official of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry said, "Our consultations are basically aimed at improving bilateral relations with our neighbor Burma and strengthening economic cooperation."

Easing Burma’s visa regime for Bangladeshi businessmen and other travelers would feature prominently in the discussions. Currently Bangladeshi businessmen get a maximum of 14-day visa and can go up to Arakan state. Regarding border trade, businessmen can go up to Maungdaw by availing border passes.

“We will go to Burma back, if the situation of Arakan State in Burma is stable. Burma is now like a hell zone, the driving the Rohingya people from their mother land is SPDC’s political game. The SPDC authorities gave promise to Bangladesh authorities to repatriate the Rohingya refugees whenever they visited the Bangladesh,” according to Mr. Salim the spokesperson of Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO).