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Senior Myanmar officials say they are now ready to welcome Rohingya returnees 

May 29. 2019
Asean chief Lim Jock Hoi (left) shakes hand with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday evening
Asean chief Lim Jock Hoi (left) shakes hand with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday evening
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By Khine Kyaw
The Nation

With Asean turning its focus on the repatriation process for Rohingyas during Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi’s recent visit to Myanmar, senior officials have said that they are now ready to welcome the returnees.

Union Minister Dr Win Myat Aye, vice chairman of Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD), told The Nation on Tuesday that Myanmar had been actively cooperating with Asean on this issue, allowing the Asean Emergency Response and Assessment Team (Asean-ERAT) to do some field work on the ground from March 4 to 13 this year.

“They visited Rakhine State and conducted an initial survey for the repatriation of displaced persons,” he said.

“They managed to write a report on their findings, and he AHA Centre [Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management] made a presentation on that report at the second high-level coordination meeting on Monday,” he added.

The minister said the report, titled “Preliminary Needs Assessment (PNA)”, described the actual situation in Rakhine State and the government’s systematic programme and readiness to conduct the repatriation work.

“They will submit that report to the Asean Summit next month [in Bangkok]. We are now finding proper ways to further strengthen our cooperation with Asean on the repatriation process of Rohingyas,” he explained.

He lauded Asean’s support to Myanmar in its efforts to address long-standing issues in conflict-hit Rakhine State, and said he considered the Asean chief’s visit as a “step forward”.

In order to observe the real situation happening on the ground, a high-level delegation led by Secretary-General Hoi visited Rakhine State last December, following a decision made at the 33rd Asean Summit.

Win Myat Aye on Monday discussed with Hoi Asean’s cooperation in the repatriation process. 

Hoi said the initial survey report’s recommendations would be jointly implemented and a more complete assessment would be made when the repatriation begins. 

He pledged to cooperate more in the stability and long-term development work in Rakhine State.

“These practical measures would contribute to creating a conducive environment to pave the way for the repatriation,” Asean said in a statement.

Asean Secretaryh Hoi is in Rakhine state 

The meeting agreed to immediately implement a number of “low-hanging fruits” identified in the report: to undertake an in-country capacity-building programme for Asean-ERAT based in Myanmar to support the repatriation process when it commences; and to establish a technical working group, comprising representatives of the Asean Secretariat, the AHA Centre, the UEHRD, the Department of Disaster Management, and other relevant Myanmar officials and experts, to discuss the detailed modalities of implementation of recommendations on the potential areas of collaboration identified in the PNA report.

During his visit, Hoi also met with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday evening. 

During the meeting, they exchanged views on the recent developments in Rakhine State and on the possible areas of collaboration between Myanmar and Asean in resolving the humanitarian situation, as well as the outcomes and implementation of the recommendations of the PNA report, according to the Myanmar State Counsellor Office.

Hoi yesterday also discussed with Kyaw Tin, union minister for International Cooperation, the role of Asean in the process of Rohingya repatriation.

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