The Financial Express

Myanmar sets up make-shift camps for 30,000 Rohingyas

| Updated: January 16, 2018 11:16:25

Myanmar sets up make-shift camps for 30,000 Rohingyas

Myanmar is building a camp to temporarily house 30,000 Rohingya Muslims targeted for repatriation after fleeing violence in Rakhine State.

State media of Myanmar reported on Monday as part of Myanmar and Bangladesh meet to discuss how to implement a repatriation deal.

More than 6,50,000 Rohingya have headed across the Bangladesh border after a sweeping Myanmar Army counteroffensive.

The crackdown has been described by the United States and UN as ethnic cleansing, which Myanmar repeatedly rejects.

Officials from Myanmar and Bangladesh meet on Monday to discuss a repatriation deal signed on 23 November. The meeting in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, is the first for a joint working group set up to hammer out the details of the agreement.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said a camp in Hla Po Khaung in northern Rakhine will be a temporary transition camp for people who are to be "accepted systematically" for repatriation.

"The 124-acre Hla Po Khaung will accommodate about 30,000 people in its 625 buildings," the newspaper said, adding that some 100 buildings will be completed by end of January.

Aung Tun Thet, chief coordinator of Myanmar’s Union Enterprises for Humanitarian Assistance, said “We will try to accept all of those who are coming back to Myanmar".

To verify returnees’ residency, they will be sent to assessment camps in Taungpyoletwei or Ngakhuya before they are moved to the Hla Po Khaung camp, he added.

Soe Aung, permanent secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said returnees will spend “at least one or two months” in Hla Po Khaung before their new homes are built.

It is unclear, however, how many returnees would qualify for citizenship in Myanmar, reports, Reuters.

Myanmar government officials have said the 1992-1993 repatriation deal, which followed a previous spasm of violence in Myanmar, would accept those who could present identity documents issued to the Rohingya by governments in the past.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has for years denied Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic services such as healthcare and education. They are considered illegal immigrants from mainly Muslim Bangladesh.

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