China assures Bangladesh of assistance for Rohingya repatriation

Dhaka: Beijing has assured Dhaka of assistance for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in Bangladeshi camps after fleeing violent persecution in Myanmar, with China building some 3,000 homes to accommodate returnees.

Bangladesh hosts more than a million Rohingya Muslims, reports the dpa news agency.

Some 750,000 people crossed the border after Myanmar launched a military crackdown on the minority group in 2017.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told a press conference that he met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Dhaka on Sunday.

Momen said the Chinese minister informed the meeting that his country had already built 3,000 houses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State for potential returnees.

“China will also arrange initial food aid for them once (the refugees) return home,” Momen said.

“We have to thank (China) for agreeing to do this,” the minister said, adding that identity verification of the refugees was ongoing.

Myanmar has so far verified the identities of some 58,000 people while Bangladesh has sent the biometrics of more than 800,000 refugees living in the camps in the southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar, officials said.

Yi, who arrived in Dhaka on Saturday for a two-day visit, was not present at the press conference as he left Dhaka for Ulaanbaatar shortly after Sunday’s meeting.

“China has made progress in resolving the Rohingya crisis and we need the situation to end,” Bangladesh’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said.

After repatriation efforts failed twice in 2019, China facilitated a meeting with Bangladesh and Myanmar to find a breakthrough in January 2021.

Negotiations were halted for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Repatriation attempts failed due to the refugee’s lack of trust in the Myanmar government.

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