DHAKA: A Myanmar Cabinet minister visited a sprawling refugee camp in Bangladesh for Rohingya Muslims, who described the violence that forced them to flee Myanmar and presented a list of demands for their repatriation.
Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye on Wednesday met with about 40 Rohingya refugees at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar for more than an hour, sometimes exchanging heated words.
A Rohingya leader, Abdur Rahim, said at least eight rape victims were among those who met with Win Myat Aye. Rahim said the group presented 13 demands for the government to meet for their return to Myanmar.
About 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled army-led violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since last August and are living in crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh.
The two countries agreed in December to begin repatriating them in January, but they were delayed by concerns among aid workers and Rohingya that they would face unsafe conditions in Myanmar.
Bangladesh has given Myanmar a list of more than 8,000 refugees to begin the repatriation, but it has been further delayed by a complicated verification process.
Win Myat Aye did not specify a timeframe for the repatriation but said it should begin as soon as possible.
Rahim said the group became angry when Win Myat Aye said the Rohingya refugees must accept national verification cards to be provided by Myanmar in which they state they are migrants from Bangladesh.
Rahim said they demanded to be recognised as citizens of Myanmar before the repatriation starts and that their security arrangements be supervised by the United Nations. — AP
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