YANGON — Bangladesh has provided Myanmar with a list of more than 8,000 mostly Rohingya refugees to have their backgrounds checked prior to their return, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced Saturday, after a nearly one-month delay in the repatriation process.
The list of 8,032 refugees from 1,673 households was handed over to Home Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe on Friday during a bilateral meeting at the Bangladeshi Home Affairs Ministry in Dhaka.
The first group of refugees on the list will be repatriated once their prior residence in Myanmar has been verified.
Myanmar’s Home Affairs Ministry said it also urged Bangladesh to investigate and provide information about a list of suspected members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army it had previously provided Dhaka.
It said the two countries also discussed the pending launch of liaison offices in Myanmar’s Maungdaw Township and Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar to coordinate security and combat the cross-border trade of illegal drugs.
Late last year, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to start repatriating the hundreds of thousands of mostly Rohingya refugees who have fled northern Rakhine State since late 2016 on Jan. 23. But Bangladesh delayed the process while tensions were rising in the Cox’s Bazar camps and as some critics of the deal voiced concerns over the lack of security guarantees for those who would return.
Despite the ongoing preparations for repatriation, more than 2,500 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh just this year. According to government statistics, an average of 75 Rohingya fled their villages each day between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15.
Myanmar has said it was ready to start receiving the refugees as soon as Bangladesh sends it a list of names.
Minister of Labor, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe told reporters in Naypyitaw on Monday that Myanmar would check that the listed refugees had resided in Myanmar within a week and then inform Bangladesh to start the repatriation.