Myanmar minister to visit Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

Source: AFP | By Mohammed Ismail | Published on 4th April 2018, 5:59 PM | Global News |

Dhaka: A Myanmar minister will tour camps for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, an official said today, the first such visit since Myanmar's army drove nearly 700,000 members of the Muslim minority over the border.

Bangladesh's foreign ministry confirmed that Myanmar's social welfare, relief and resettlement minister Win Myat Aye would visit the congested camps, which are home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees in total.

"His programme has not been fixed yet," Tareque Muhammad, a director-general at the foreign ministry, told AFP. The visit is slated for April 11 or 12.

US and UN officials say the military crackdown which began last August in the mainly Buddhist nation, purportedly to flush out guerrillas, amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.

Another Bangladeshi official told AFP it would be the first visit by a Myanmar minister to the camps, which have sheltered Rohingya refugees since the early 1990s, for more than a decade.

Win Myat Aye is the deputy head of a task force led by Aung San Suu Kyi on the crisis in Rakhine state, and a top official overseeing a stalled agreement with Bangladesh to repatriate some 750,000 refugees.

Myanmar has approved several hundred Rohingya from a list of thousands to return to their homeland but not a single one has yet crossed back.

Meanwhile Myanmar authorities are accused of bulldozing Rohingya villages in Rakhine and seeking to erase evidence at sites where their troops are accused of atrocities.

Myanmar has denied the charge but blocked investigators from visiting an area where thousands of Rohingya, long persecuted in the country, are believed to have been killed.

Even before the latest influx began last August, the camps in southeast Bangladesh were home to roughly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled previous waves of violence.

Rohingya community leaders in the camps said they would welcome the opportunity to raise their concerns about returning to Rakhine with the visiting Myanmar official.

"We would like to meet face-to face with the minister," Mohibullah told AFP.

Many of the displaced Muslims have rejected the prospect of returning, fearing a repeat of the persecution that has forced them off their lands for generations.

Refugees demand recognition as a minority, access to health and education and an assurance they can return to their ancestral villages rather than being shunted into resettlement camps in Rakhine.

Read These Next

California searches for 1,000 missing in deadliest fire

Recovery teams with cadaver dogs pressed on with their search for more victims in a flame-ravaged northern California town on Friday as authorities sought clues to the fate of more than 1,000 people reported missing in ...

Saudi Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing: CIA

The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the Saudi government’s denials that the de facto ruler was involved, according to ...

China lauds Pakistan efforts to make peace with India

In a statement that is unlikely to go down well in New Delhi, China on Sunday endorsed Pakistan’s “efforts for improvement of Pakistan-India relations and for settlement of outstanding disputes between the two ...