In this Sept 25, 2017 file photo, Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait to receive aid during its distribution near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh. (DAR YASIN / AP)
YANGON/PALONG KHALI, Bangladesh – Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi held talks with the Advisory Board on Rakhine State to discuss its work plan, Myanmar News Agency reported Tuesday.
The meeting was held in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday, a day before the planned repatriation of displaced Rohingya people from Bangladesh to Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Bangladesh however has delayed the Rohingya repatriation because the process of compiling and verifying the list of people to be sent back is incomplete, according to a senior Bangladesh official.
There are many things remaining…The list of people to be sent back is yet to be prepared, their verification and setting up of transit camps is remaining.
Abul Kalam, Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, Bangladesh
The decision comes as tensions have risen in Bangladeshi camps holding hundreds of thousands of refugees, some of whom are opposing their transfer back to Myanmar.
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In August 2017, an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released its final report with recommendations to solve the Rakhine issue. The recommendations are being carried out by an implementation committee headed by Myanmar's Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Win Myat Aye.
An Advisory Board was later formed with experts from home and abroad on Dec 14, 2017, led by Surakiart Sathirathai, chairman of Asia Peace and Reconciliation Council and former Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, to support the committee’s work.
Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed earlier this month to complete the voluntary repatriation of the refugees within two years, starting on Tuesday. Myanmar says it has set up two reception centers and a temporary camp near the border to receive the first arrivals.
Set to receive the returnees five days per week, the Myanmar side has suggested Bangladesh side to include 1,258 people of Hindu and Muslim faiths, verified as Myanmar residents, in the first batch of repatriation.
Talking to Reuters on Monday on the repatriation, Abul Kalam, Bangladesh's refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, said the return would have to be delayed.
Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait in queues to receive aid at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh Nov 15, 2017. (AP PHOTO / AM AHAD)
"There are many things remaining…The list of people to be sent back is yet to be prepared, their verification and setting up of transit camps is remaining."
Myanmar said on Monday it was ready to take back the returning Rohingya.
"We are ready to accept them once they come back. On our part, the preparation is ready," Ko Ko Naing, director general of Myanmar's Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, told Reuters by phone.
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Meanwhile, the Myanmar government has invited local and international communities to cooperate with it in the rebuilding and resettlement efforts for conflict-torn Rakhine state.
The ARSA extremist terrorists launched attacks on police outposts in Rakhine on Aug 25 last year, displacing residents from a number of areas in Maungtaw district.