The repatriation of displaced Myanmar citizens in Bangladesh could begin from March-April this year, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman on Wednesday.
"I am optimistic that more than 41,000 verified Rohingyas will be repatriated to Myanmar through China's mediation," he stated at a certificate signing programme organised at the ministry's conference room in Dhaka.
The ministry's Secretary Md Mohsin represented Bangladesh at the programme, while Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming represented China, read a press release.
Speaking as the chief guest of the event held to facilitate the distribution of rice given as emergency aid by the Chinese government for the Rohingyas, the state minister said, "The disaster management and relief ministry had sent a list of 8.29 lakh Rohingyas to the foreign ministry.
"Among them, the Myanmar government has verified 41,719 and agreed to take them back."
When asked about the current progress regarding the repatriation process, Enamur said, "Bangladesh, Myanmar and China held a secretary-level meeting yesterday [Tuesday], and the matter of Rohingya repatriation was discussed positively there.
"Myanmar has realised that they must take back their displaced citizens. Bangladesh also feels that they [Rohingyas] should return home in a dignified way with citizenship. Moreover, China wants the Rohingyas to return home for the sake of Bangladesh's development."
The state minister continued, "Bangladesh wants a 'village-based' repatriation process, but Myanmar seeks to repatriate only the verified ones – taken from the list of Rohingyas provided by the Bangladesh government earlier.
"Yesterday's [Tuesday] meeting ended on that note. I am hopeful that a more amicable solution will come in the next meeting. China and Myanmar have shown goodwill there, so we are waiting for a good outcome."
He further said, "Bangladesh has a friendly relationship with China, and China has the same with Myanmar. China plays an important role in Myanmar's development. So, if China really wants, they can influence the Myanmar government in this matter.
"Taking into consideration our stance on the issue and yesterday's [Tuesday] meeting, the Chinese ambassador said his country is 100% keen on maintaining the important bilateral relationship with Bangladesh, and will continue to work towards the repatriation of Rohingyas."
The Chinese government provided 2,554 tonnes of rice as emergency aid for the Rohingyas, and Bangladesh received it last December. The aid is currently being distributed among the Rohingyas, and the signing event held on Wednesday was a part of this initiative.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Shah Rezwan Hayat, Economic Relations Division's Joint Secretary Shahriar Quader Siddiqui, and Director General (Myanmar Wing) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Delwar Hossain spoke at the programme.