Myanmar Officials Visit Bangladesh Refugee Camp for Repatriation Project

    Myanmar Officials Visit Bangladesh Refugee Camp for Repatriation Project
    Last updated Mar 16, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]


    • A 22-member delegation from Myanmar arrived on Wednesday in Teknaf, Cox's Bazar to verify the information about Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh's camps that are enrolled for repatriation and willing to return to the Rakhine State.[1]
    • Reuters reported, citing a Bangladesh official, that 1,140 Rohingya refugees are to be repatriated under this pilot project, with 711 cases having already been cleared. It is unclear when they would be going home.[2]
    • Myanmar and Bangladesh are reputedly working to start repatriation before the monsoon season gets underway in the next few months. Conditions for the Muslim majority Rohingya in Rakhine have allegedly improved.[3]
    • This visit comes a few days after Bangladesh investigators stated that the blaze on March 5 in Cox's Bazar, which left tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees homeless, was a planned act of sabotage carried out by militant groups seeking to "dominate" the camps.[4]
    • The Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Yao Wen, is reportedly hopeful that the first wave of displaced Rohingya would return to Myanmar soon. At least 348 Rohingya refugees died at sea last year trying to escape poor conditions in Bangladesh and reach Malaysia and Indonesia.[5]
    • Nearly a million Rohingya people have sought refuge in southeast Bangladesh since the Myanmar military allegedly launched a devastating campaign against the country's Muslim minority six years ago.


    Narrative A

    This is the first and most promising move to solve the Rohingya crisis, which has been disrupting South and Southeast Asia for six years. Bangladesh has long requested Myanmar to speed up the repatriation process but both COVID and the army's takeover disrupted the process. Because the situation is calmer in Rakhine now, this is the right time for repatriation to start.

    Narrative B

    Though every refugee must be allowed to voluntarily repatriate, conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine State are not auspicious for the sustainable return and reintegration of Rohingya refugees yet. The military junta is implementing this pilot project due to pressure from the international community, particularly from China, not out of its true goodwill. Discriminatory policies against Rohingya people are sadly likely to continue.