Friday, December 9, 2011

Bangladesh says refugees must return quickly

Friday, 09 December 2011 16:31 Tun Tun

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Refugees living in the Nayapara and Kutupalong refugee camps and the huge number of undocumented Burmese nationals living in Bangladesh should be returned quickly, according to a joint statement by Burma and Bangladesh.

The statement came following a two-day visit to Burma by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, which ended on Wednesday.

The Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Teknaf, Cox’s bazar. There are 30,000 un-registered Rohingya refugees living in the camp. Photo: Bayazid Akter

President Thein Sein was quoted in the Burmese state-run newspaper Myanmar Ahlin  as saying: “Burma wants to cooperate with Bangladesh in resolving the issue.”

According to figures compiled by UNHCR, there are about 29,300 Burmese refugees assisted by the UN group and more than 200,000 Burmese of questionable status in Bangladesh.  

The joint statement did not use the word “Rohingya,” a term the Burmese government does not accept.

On Tuesday, the Bangladesh newspaper The Daily Star reported that Burma had agreed to take back Rohingya refugees who have been recently verified by Burmese authorities.

The Daily Star quoted the Bangladesh prime minister saying that the presence of the Burmese refugees creates social, financial and environmental challenges to Bangladesh

In other business, the joint statement said the two governments stressed the establishment of a direct banking arrangement under the Asian Clearing Union and a plan to launch direct air flights between Dhaka/Chittagong and Rangoon. The governments also discussed border trade, and Bangladesh said that it wanted to organize a trade fair in Rangoon early next year.  

The Bangladesh prime minister asked Burma to import readymade garments, pharmaceutical products, knitwear, and jute goods and ceramics from Bangladesh.

During the visit, the two countries signed an “Agreement on the Establishment of a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation,” and an agreement for the two countries’ chambers of commerce to cooperate more closely.

On Wednesday, a ceremony was held to lay a foundation to build a Bangladesh Embassy in the diplomatic zone in Naypyitaw.

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