Photo: Myanmar State Counsellor Office
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has emphasised the need for accelerating efforts to create a conducive environment in northern Rakhine State and build houses and villages for returnees to facilitate repatriation.
Minister Ali along with joint working group members on Saturday visited the northern Rakhine State and saw the ‘trail of widespread devastation’ suffered by people there, said the Foreign Ministry here, reports UNB.
Myanmar's Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Win Myat Aye accompanied the Bangladesh delegation comprising the Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque.
Both sides agreed on the need for early settlement of the displaced people currently staying at the boundary line (Zero line) between border pillars 34 and 35 to their original villages.
Myanmar particularly requested Bangladesh to stop providing humanitarian assistance to those people by ICRC/UNDP/INGOs from Bangladesh side and proposed to arrange the supply of humanitarian assistance from Myanmar side.
Bangladesh responded positively to the Myanmar’s proposal to conduct a fresh joint survey of the boundary line between border pillars 34 and 35.
The delegation members left Sittwe for Maungdaw at noon and returned to Yangon through Sittwe, Bangladesh Ambassador to Yangon Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury told UNB.
Minister Ali was taken to the border on the Myanmar side where few thousand displaced Myanmar nationals have been staying at the zero line.
He also visited reception centers at Taung Pyo Let Yar and Nga Khu Ya, the transit camp at Hla Poe Kaung having 30,000- capacity to demonstrate Myanmar’s preparation to receive the returnees.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister also visited Shwe Zar village where around 148 pre-fabricated houses for returnees are being built with assistance from the government of India.
He visited Pan Taw Pyin village from where most of the 15,000 inhabitants fled to Bangladesh.
Mahmood Ali was informed that the remaining Muslims and the peoples of Buddhist and Hindu faiths are currently living there.
The Myanmar government has built 22 houses for internally displaced people and around 50 more houses for the returnees in the village.
Minister Ali also visited Kaing Gyi village inhabited by ethnic Rakhine and Mro people.
Foreign Minister Ali is now in Myanmar on a four-day visit to discuss issues related to the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals who took shelter in Bangladesh and to learn about Myanmar’s preparation for repatriation of Rohingyas.
He had a meeting with Union Minister of the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar Kyaw Tint Swe on Friday in Nay Pyi Taw.
This was followed by a ministerial meeting between the two sides.
The Bangladesh side was led by the Foreign Minister while the Myanmar side by Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe.
In the afternoon, the Foreign Minister paid a courtesy call on Vice President of the Union of Myanmar Myint Swe.
At the bilateral meeting, various aspects and challenges concerning the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals were discussed at length.
Both sides agreed on the need for delivering on the commitments made by parties and speed up implementation of the bilateral instruments on repatriation concluded between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The two sides reached an understanding on massive distribution of verification forms among the prospective returnees, building of the remaining reception centre at the Bangladesh side as agreed in the bilateral arrangements.
It was also agreed that a hotline between the two ministers will be set up. Bangladesh requested Myanmar to take steps to address unwillingness of prospective returnees to accept the National Verification Card (NVC).