Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesia hopes that Myanmar can immediately create a conducive situation in Rakhine State to support the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingyas from refugee camps in Bangladesh, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.
“So that voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation can be carried out immediately,” Marsudi said at a media briefing after a virtual meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers (AMM Retreat) on Thursday.
At the meeting, Indonesia also requested that the work preparation for a comprehensive needs assessment (CNA), which is a further step from the preliminary needs assessment (PNA), be started to prepare for repatriation.
Based on a report by the Secretary General of ASEAN, the implementation of the CNA is ongoing with two of the four priority projects having entered the implementation stage, while the other two projects are still under discussion.
Additional project proposals covering various fields, including road infrastructure, health, education and livestock, are also being followed up on by a support team from the ASEAN Secretariat and the Myanmar government.
Apart from preparing livelihood opportunities for the Rohingya once they return to Myanmar, the aim of the CNA is to assess the readiness of reception and transit centers, including potential relocation sites that have been identified by the local government.
“Indonesia emphasizes the importance of working harder so that implementation (PNA) can be more intensified,” Marsudi said.
In a press statement released after the meeting by Brunei Darussalam, which is acting as chair of ASEAN this year, the ASEAN foreign ministers have reaffirmed their support for Myanmar’s efforts to create peace and stability, promote harmony and reconciliation among various communities, and promote inclusive and sustainable development in Rakhine State.
“We also reaffirm ASEAN’s readiness to play a more visible and enhanced role to support Myanmar in these efforts and, therefore, reiterate our appreciation to the Secretary General of ASEAN for his efforts in leading the implementation of recommendations from the PNA,” according to the foreign ministers’ statement on the AMM Retreat.
More than 730,000 ethnic Rohingya people fled Myanmar in 2017 due to military persecution in Rakhine, the state where they lived.
According to the United Nations (UN), the military operation was motivated by the intent of genocide, or mass killing.
Myanmar denied the accusation and said that its forces only targeted Rohingya extremist groups that attacked police headquarters.
Amid tough repatriation arrangements between Myanmar and Bangladesh, thousands of Rohingyas face the threat of being relocated to the remote and flood-prone island of Bhasan Char, Bay of Bengal.
Muslim Rohingya refugees have refused to return to Rakhine for fear of persecution and also since their citizenship status is not recognized under Myanmar law.
Some of them have become victims of human-trafficking while trying to seek a better living in neighboring countries, including Indonesia, by entering them illegally via the sea route. (INE)
Source: Antara News