Bangladesh to Take Some Rescued Boat People: Foreign Ministry

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 4 June 2015

RANGOON — Bangladesh will take some of the more than 900 boat people rescued by the Burma Navy last month, according to Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin met with Ambassador Sufiur Rahman in Naypyidaw to begin repatriation for some of the 942 Bangladeshi and Rohingya boat people currently being provided temporary shelter in Burma. According to the statement, Rahman said on Wednesday that the Bangladeshi government considered the matter a priority and a repatriation process would begin on Sunday.

Information Minister Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy that he was unable to confirm how many people will be sent over the border to Burma’s western neighbor, as the number of people verified by that country’s authorities.

“After they verify the list we have provided, they will take back the people [found to be from Bangladesh],” he said, adding that the exact number to be taken across the border would likely be known on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry’s statement was similarly unclear on how many of the boat people would be sent to Bangladesh. The United Nations announced last week that 200 of the 208 rescued off the coast on May 21 were believed to be from Bangladesh. That figure was accepted by a Bangladeshi consular team in Sittwe, according to the ministry.

Another 734 boat people rescued on Friday are now at temporary shelters in Taung Pyo Let Wal, near the Bangladesh border in Arakan State. Bangladeshi consular officials will begin visiting the group from Thursday. There has been no official confirmation from the Foreign Ministry of the second group’s country of origin, although on Tuesday Ye Htut appeared to claim that most were from Bangladesh.

Also on Thursday, Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging international organizations at home and abroad to avoid creating misconceptions about Burma and aggravating the fraught situation on the ground with regard to the issues of human trafficking and boat people.

“In addressing the issues of human trafficking and boat people, we would request that national and international organizations exercise great care to avoid creating misconceptions about our country and aggravating communal tensions and conflict,” said the letter, according to an English translation published in Thursday’s edition of the Global New Light of Myanmar.