The agreement concerns The Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh after a Rohingya militant group attacked police stations in October 2016 and August 2017. Last November, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in which the process is expected to begin on 22 January 2018. The agreement stated that repatriation must be “voluntary, safe and dignified.” On 23 January, Bangladesh and Myanmar reached an agreement on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. The two governments reportedly reached the agreement at a bilateral meeting of a joint working group on returns held on 16 January in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar. Tuesday`s bilateral agreement in Dhaka came less than a week after a senior U.N. official warned that a genocide of the ethnic minority was still underway in Rakhine, the home country of Myanmar`s Rohingya minority. Sirajul Mostofa, a community leader at a Cox`s Bazaar camp, told the BBC: “We still don`t know what agreement has been signed. The two governments agreed on Tuesday after representatives met for the third time the day before in Dhaka, nearly a week after the United Nations released a report decreeing the continuing atrocities in Myanmar`s Rakhine state. Myanmar`s deputy foreign minister U Aung Kyaw Zan said Myanmar would only repatriate verified refugees. The government has verified more than 5,000 names out of more than 8,000 submitted by the Bangladeshi government for verification. The agreement does not apply to Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh before October 2016, under raids and municipal violence. In June, the Government of Myanmar signed an agreement with UNHCR to cooperate with the UN to create “safe and dignified” conditions for the return of the Rohingya to Rakhine, including security, freedom of movement and citizenship. None of these assurances have been given to date by the Government of Myanmar and access to UNHCR in Rakhine State has been limited.
Chris Melzer, UNHCR`s external chief officer in Cox`s Bazar, Bangladesh, repeated this, saying: “UNHCR was not a party to this agreement. The agreement requires Bangladeshi officials to provide Myanmar with a list of the Rohingya, who would then determine whether they lived in Rakhine. After review by Myanmar, Bangladesh should submit lists of people wishing to return home. Some observers have described the announcement as a political motivation by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ahead of parliamentary elections in late December. While Bangladesh initially welcomed refugees fleeing military operations, a year after their presence has become a politically controversial issue and pressure on Hasina to begin repatriating them as quickly as possible is intensifying.