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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Tokyo pledges $3m to Yangon for repatriation

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Bangladesh and Myan-mar are likely to finalise an agreement on the 'physical arrangement' on Monday to start the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar.  A 14-member Bangla-desh delegation, led by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, will leave here for Myanmar capital on Sunday to attend the first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG), an official told UNB.

Despite challenges, Bangladesh officials said, they are on tracks in terms of timeframe mentioned in the bilateral document signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23. Meanwhile, Japanese's Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Friday urged Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to guarantee the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in troubled Rakhine state.

While Taro Kono is visiting Myanmar, the Japanese government announced a grant of $3 million to Myanmar's government to help facilitate the repatriation of the Rohingyas, reports AP. Myanmar and Bangla-desh signed an agreement on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees on November 23, and Myan-mar said it would start the process by January 23. The exact numbers and extent of the repatriation is still unclear.

"We've decided to  provide the aid in response to the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to represent an international message of support so that the repatriation can be carried out promptly," said Japan Foreign Ministry official Shinobu Yamaguchi in a statement.

Kono's three-day visit to Myanmar includes travelling to Rakhine state. Humanitarian groups and independent media are prohibited from travelling to the area freely. Over 655,500 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to escape a brutal crackdown in which security forces have been accused of systematic abuses tantamount to ethnic cleansing.

During a meeting on Friday, Kono asked Suu Kyi's government to allow humanitarian and media access to the affected area, the resettlement of returned refugees, and the implementation of recommendations made by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Kono also said Japan plans to give further aid to improve humanitarian conditions and development in Rakhine state.

"We're thankful to Japan for its willingness to support the needs both for short term and long term," Suu Kyi said at the joint news conference. Yamaguchi stressed that Japan will monitor how the repatriation will be carried out. "The money will be paid in a timely manner based on the progress of repatriation," he added.

Quoting Myanmar Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, Myanmar media recently reported that they will start on January 22 repatriating those families who fled from Rakhine to Bangladesh. Win Myat Aye said a group of 450 Hindu refugees will be allowed back across the border to Myanmar on January 22 as the first step in the repatriation process.

A refugee camp has been set up at Taungpyoleiwei in northwestern Rakhine state for those returning overland from Bangladesh, while a second camp has been erected in Ngakhuya, Maungdaw township for those returning by sea or waterways. India recently announced a development assistance of $25 million for Myanmar's Rakhine State, from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims recently fled their homeland amid violence against them.

-AP

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