Government affirms readiness to repatriate displaced people from Rakhine State

(From L to R) Director-General U Zaw Htay, Deputy Minister Maj-Gen Aung Thu, Union Minister Dr. Win Myat Aye, Deputy Minister U Soe Aung, Permanent Secretary U Myint Thu and Director-General U Htay Hlaing are seen at the press conference on repatriation of returnees. Photo: MNA
(From L to R) Director-General U Zaw Htay, Deputy Minister Maj-Gen Aung Thu, Union Minister Dr. Win Myat Aye, Deputy Minister U Soe Aung, Permanent Secretary U Myint Thu and Director-General U Htay Hlaing are seen at the press conference on repatriation of returnees. Photo: MNA

The Committee on Repatriation and Resettlement of Displaced People from Rakhine State has expressed its readiness to allow the return of people displaced from Rakhine, at a rate of 150 people per day.
“We are ready to receive displaced people back at the rate of 150 people per day. As we have made arrangements to accept people coming by road or waterways, we can accept up to 300 persons every day,” said Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement, Dr. Win Myat Aye, at a press conference in Yangon yesterday. He is also the chairman of the Committee on Repatriation and Resettlement of Displaced People from Rakhine State.
In keeping with agreements reached with Bangladesh, the Myanmar government has been making efforts for repatriating displaced people by completing reception centers by 23 January, 2018. It has kept things in readiness for repatriation since then.
“We have worked out the repatriation process in accordance with the bilateral agreement. We are working to repatriate displaced people now, in accordance with that agreement,” said the Union Minister.
He said that at a recent bilateral meeting in Bangladesh, Dhaka agreed to send the first batch of 2,260 people to Myanmar in mid-November.
“We held the press conference today to tell you that Bangladesh will be sending people back through waterways to the Nga Khu Ya Reception Centre,” he said.
“We have to be ready on our side. We have made strenuous efforts over several months to reach this development today,” said the Union Minister.
Divided into five groups, the officials are ready to carry out the scrutinizing process, and the processes for the application of citizenship will also be facilitated in accordance with existing laws, said the Union Minister. Returnees are free to move everywhere in Maungatw Township, if they hold a National Verification Card.
Officials said Sunday that returnees can receive an ID, called the National Verification Card, that will allow them to travel anywhere in the Maungtaw area of Rakhine State. They can then begin to apply for citizenship.
Arrangements are under way to provide clothes to returnees arriving at the camps. The Ministry of Health and Sports is ready with preventive measures against the spread of infectious diseases and other health measures.
“Returnees will be allowed to stay at each camp for two days and a night. Arrangements have been made for their food and accommodation,” the minister said.
The government is making arrangements to provide a month’s ration of food to returnees at the Hla Phoe Khaung Camp, where they will arrive via the reception camp, he said.

Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement  Dr. Win Myat Aye. Photo: MNA
Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement
Dr. Win Myat Aye. Photo: MNA

“Myanmar’s reception program includes playgrounds for children, women’s care centres, cash for expecting mothers, programs on hygiene and family planning, talks on health education and ensuring a pleasant family life,” the minister said.
“There will also be monthly cash provision programs, vaccination programs, ambulances for emergency cases, and mobile clinics for people aged 85 and above. Teachers have also been assigned at a temporary school at the Hla Phoe Khaung Camp,” he said.
“While staying at Hla Phoe Khaung Camp, persons holding NVCs will be allowed to move freely in Maungtaw area. Their stated addresses will be scrutinized, and if found correct, they will be allowed to return to them,” he added.
“Houses are being built for the homeless. Returnees with no homes will be settled in temporary residences located in areas nearest to their original homes. They will be allowed to participate in rebuilding their homes, and they will be paid for their labour. If they choose the government program, they will be allowed to stay at Hla Phoe Khaung Camp till their homes are completed,” the minister said.
“While staying at Hla Phoe Khaung Camp, they will be provided with one-month’s provision of food and fuel. They will also get Ks1,000 per day per person to buy vegetables, fish, and meat,” he said.
“Arrangements have been made for merchants of Maungtaw area to open shops at the camp. Tube-wells have been installed to provide clean water,” he added. “If necessary, three fire engines are being kept ready to provide extra water. These arrangements are being made to ensure security and stability,” the minister said.
“Long-term plans have been formulated to ensure social harmony in the regions. Measures have been taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. Myanmar is ready for verification and reception,” the Union Minister said.
Afterwards, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U Myint Thu, explained bilateral negotiations between the two countries for the reception of returnees from Bangladesh, and meetings with returnees staying in Bangladesh.
U Myint Thu said the third working group meeting on repatriation was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 30 October. Views on reception programs were exchanged at the meeting, and formation of basic level groups for reception and resettlement was agreed upon. The countries also discussed holding of basic level and joint negotiations for the smooth running of the reception programs.
“The joint working group visited camps at Cox Bazar where returnees were staying and met with about 100 representatives. They also met with representatives of the Hindu community. According to them, there are 438 members of Hindu families, and they want to return to Myanmar as soon as possible. Arrangements are under way for the return of the Hindu families. The group also visited two other camps where returnees were staying, and explained the reception programs in detail,” he said.
“The group explained to them the arrangements made by Myanmar with documentary aids, and UEHRD’s health, education, social, security and socio-economic programs. The group urged the people to come back of their own volition and to fill the verification form. They also explained the salient features of the NVC,” he added.
Later, officials answered queries raised by the media on the reception program.
More than 70 mediapersons from 32 local and foreign news agencies attended the press conference. — MNA (Translated by AMS and TMT)

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