Chittagong, Bangladesh: Burma has shown readiness to take back its registered refugees and undocumented Burmese nationals who have illegally crossed into Bangladesh for years, according to an official newsletter yesterday in Dhaka.

“Burma Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Maung Myint showed the interest during the Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) held in the Burmese capital of Nay Pyi Taw on August 25."

The annual consultations are so far the highest level connections between the officials of Bangladesh and Burma since the new government took office in Burma.

Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes led Bangladesh delegation in the meeting, where he referred to the full list of residual Burmese refugees living in Bangladesh camps and requested Burma for early verification and commencement of repatriation, reported in the newsletter.

“He also requested Burma to take effective steps for the repatriation of undocumented Burmese nationals illegally entering and living inside Bangladesh and to put a mechanism in place to stop further influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh territory.”

The deputy minister of Burma stated their readiness to take back all Burmese refugees after verification and subject to agreed criteria. He also agreed in principle to take back all other Burmese nationals living illegally for long in Bangladesh, a country already battered by overpopulation and associated problems. The two sides agreed to synchronize border patrolling by border guards to stop illegal movement of people and other Tran’s boundary crimes, the newsletter more reported. 

“It was also agreed that the two sides would explore mechanisms for cooperation in identifying and repatriating undocumented Burmese nationals living in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh foreign secretary also raised the issue of expediting repatriation when he called on Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin. The Burmese foreign minister assured him of looking into the matter personally with a view to an early resolution of the longstanding issue.”

During the FOC, Bangladesh and Burma agreed to conclude a memorandum of understanding to form a joint commission.

When asked a refugee leader about the repatriation, he said, “We are very happy for hearing that Burmese government is ready to take back its nationals. We will go home, if we get our rights as per other nationals in Burma. We also want to get compensation.”

Burma has taken back some of their nationals over years through the United Nations brokerage, but much of its citizens, who are mostly undocumented, still live in Bangladesh, causing a major problem to food, environment and security issues.

Among other issues, the Bangladesh foreign secretary also discussed with his Burma counterpart cooperation in energy sectors, and physical connectivity including direct road link, air service and coastal shipping.