Bangladesh, China and Myanmar to discuss Rohingya repatriation

A ministerial-level meeting between Bangladesh and Myanmar mediated by China will take place today in Dhaka to discuss the repatriation

Mohammad Ponir HossainReuters rohingya

Photo: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

A ministerial-level meeting between Bangladesh and Myanmar mediated by China will take place today in Dhaka to discuss the repatriation of Rohingya refugees into Myanmar.

In November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement on repatriation of the Rohingya refugees staying in Bangladesh, almost one million of whom reside in 34 refugee camps in and around Cox’s Bazar. Progress on repatriation of the population has been slow. Refugees are reluctant to return to unchanged repressive conditions in Rakhine and Myanmar has lagged on processing Rohingya biometric data, part of the repatriation process. The first tripartite talks on Rohingya repatriation between Bangladesh, Myanmar and China took place in January 2019.

China has a strategic interest in Myanmar as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and access point to the Indian Ocean. Bangladesh is eager to rid itself of the economic burden of maintaining refugee camps and China will look to gain credit on the world stage for handling humanitarian crises as it battles international perceptions of its own abuses against the minority Uyghurs, so repatriation is likely. But repatriating the Rhoningyas may cause further instability in Myanmar, which China may exploit by promoting BRI as a means of stabilising the country.

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