By Aman Ullah
The UN Refugee Agency and the UNDP yesterday signed an extension of an MoU with Myanmar for one year. The deal is aimed at creating conducive conditions for voluntary and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
Myanmar and U.N. agencies signed an agreement on June 6, 2018 that could lead to the return of some of the 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled brutal persecution by the country’s security forces and are now crowded into makeshift camps in Bangladesh.
The memorandum of understanding promises to establish a “framework of cooperation” that aims to create conditions for “voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable” repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
The U.N. has said the agreement provides for its refugee and development agencies to be given access to Rakhine state.
It said that will allow the refugee agency to assess the situation and provide information to refugees about conditions in their areas of origin so that they can better decide whether they want to return.
Rights groups remain pessimistic that the safe return of Rohingya refugees will ever be possible. They point to a lack of firm commitments from Myanmar and its decades of hostility toward a minority that was denied citizenship by a 1982 law that excluded them from a list of recognized ethnic groups in the majority Buddhist nation.
According to a press release published on 06 June 2018 from UNDP, GOM, UNHCR, the MOU contained the following facts:
1. The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MoLIP) of the Government of Myanmar and United Nations Agencies signed the Memorandum of Understanding on assistance to the repatriation process of displaced persons from Rakhine State at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre. Nay Pyi Taw, today.
2. The signing of the MOU is the result of the invitation by the Government of Myanmar to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to assist the Government in the implementation of the “Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State” an agreement which was signed between the Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh on 23 November 2017. Myanmar is committed to the speedy implementation of the agreement and has undertaken preparations since then.
3. The signing of the MOU is expected to enhance the work already undertaken by the Government of Myanmar since last year for the voluntary, safe and dignified repatriation of the displaced persons. It is hoped that with the UN’s involvement, the repatriation process will hasten.
4. The MOU confirms UNDP and UNHCR’s support to the Government’s comprehensive and durable solutions to the issue of displacement and its as contained in the Government of Myanmar’s statement dated 24 August 2017. In this regard, the UNHCR will assist the Government of Myanmar, inter-alia, in the implementation of the voluntary repatriation and the reintegration of all those who return Under this MOU; assist the government to conduct assessments at their potential pilot project sites; support pilot coexistence and other programmes benefiting all communities; work with UNDP to prepare the conditions for recovery and resilience-based development in potential areas.
5. Whereas, the UNDP, will assist the government of Myanmar inter alia, to coordinate and support the necessary assessments related to community resilience-building; to undertake the planning process for resilience-base recovery and development that will benefit all communities; to promote social cohesion among the communities: to support access to livelihoods.
6. Myanmar and UN previously had a successful cooperation in the field of voluntary, safe and dignified return of displaced persons. In 1993, the Government of the Union of Myanmar and UNHCR signed a MOU to provide a framework of assistance and cooperation in the context of the voluntary repatriation programme from Bangladesh and some 230.000 displaced persons were repatriated.
7. The ceremony began with the welcome remarks by U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor, with the MOU signed by Permanent Secretary of MoLIP, UN Resident Coordinator, and UNHCR representative, and followed by a reception hosted by the Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor.
8. The signing of the MOU was jointly witnessed by the Union Ministers from concerned ministries, ambassadors and diplomats from missions, Representatives from United Nations, government officials from relevant ministries and guests. The MOU was initialed on 31st May 2.018, and after completing necessary procedures, the MOU was signed today.