BANGKOK — The agreed upon date of January 22 for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees is fast approaching — but if action to move forward does begin as originally dictated, it’s unlikely that aid agencies in Cox’s Bazar will be prepared to assist.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which Bangladesh and Myanmar officials agreed will be involved in repatriation implementation “as needed at the appropriate time,” according to the document text, has heard no updates of current plans, nor received an invitation to a future meeting or negotiation.
In late November, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an initial deal for the voluntary repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, and specified that the process begin rapidly within two months. At the same time, the officials agreed to establish a 30-member joint working group, headed by their foreign secretaries, in order to develop verification, transport and logistical arrangement, and reception procedures.
It’s unclear what progress the working group has made, although the first meeting is scheduled to be held no later than January 15, according to reporting from Bangladesh’s The Daily Star.
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