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"ors are Seer a ae Het rT MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, OVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH DHAKA PEOPLE UN-HR-5013/14|/2.\ & ‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh presents its compliments to the UN organizations and other international organizations in Dhaka as mentioned below, and has the honor to refer to the briefing Session on the National Strategy on Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals in Bangladesh held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 13 February 2014. ‘The Ministry has further honor to attach a copy of the “National Strategy Paper on Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals, in Bangladesh” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the concerned UN organizations and other international organizations in Dhaka the assurances of its highest consideration. (Encl: as stated) 31 March 2014 OFFICE OF THE UNRC/ UNHCR/WEP/UNFPA/ICRC/IERC/IOM DHAKA. Strategy Paper on Addressing the Issue of Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented ‘Myanmar Nationals in Bangladesh: A Summary Presentation In light of Bangladesh’s experience during its War of Liberation in 1971 and from overall humanitarian considerations, Bangladesh gave refuge to around 2,00,000 Myanmar (Burmese) refugees in 1978 and to 2,50,877 in 1991, even if we are not a Party to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees,. Through intense diplomatic engagement with the Government of Myanmar, and in cooperation with UNHCR, almost the entire first group and 2,36,599 out of the second could be repatriated to Myanmar. The repatriation process, however, came to a halt since 2005. Due to political unrest in Myanmar, and lack of interest and response from the Myanmar side, around 30,000 registered refugees (including so-called ‘linked family members’) are now residing in two camps in Kutupalong and Noapara in Cox’s Bazar district. In addition, there is a hhuge population of 3,00,000 — 5,00,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals living outside the camps, having entered into Bangladesh in an irregular manner. 02. Asa matter of fact, Myanmar nationals are reportedly entering into Bangladesh territory through illegal means on a regular basis through Bangladesh-Myanmar borders and the coastal areas. Their number is steadily increasing in Cox’s Bazar, Khagrachhari and Bandarbans districts and in the islands along the coastal belt. The protracted presence of this large number of Myanmar refugees and undocumented Myanmar nationals over the years has created a number of adverse effects on Bangladesh’s overall socio- economic, political, demographic, environmental, humanitarian and national security situation. Many of these Myanmar nationals obtained illegal or forged Bangladesh passports to travel to countries of South East Asia and Middle East in an irregular manner and have compromised Bangladesh’s international image by getting involved in criminal activities and law and order situations in those countries. 03. Recently, on 17 — 18 August 2013, a three-member delegation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (along with the Hon’ble Foreign Minister) visited Sadar, Ukhiya, Teknaf and Ramu upazillas of Cox’s Bazar district and witnessed the situation on the ground in and outside the refugee camps as well as along the border areas. During the visit, the Parliamentary Standing Committee delegation expressed their concerns over the three following issues, in particular, i. (i) the number of Myanmar nationals exceeding the number of local population in certain areas in Cox’s Bazar, particularly in Teknaf, (ii) unmitigated influx of Myanmar nationals through land and maritime borders, despite regular interception by the border security agencies, mainly due to inadequate infrastructures (barbed wire fencing, approach road, observation posts etc.) along the Bangladesh side of the border, and (iii) involvement of undocumented Myanmar nationals with drug traflicking, political violence, and irregular movements at sea aided by human trafficking and people’s smuggling networks to reach to Malaysia, Australia and other countries, taking full advantage of their unregulated and sporadic movement across the coastal region in Bangladesh. The Parliamentary Standing Committee members strongly recommended taking necessary actions to address these priority concerns. 04. Under these circumstances, it was strongly felt within the Government that in our national interest and in view of some recent developments concerning Myanmar at the international level, it would be urgently required to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to address the situation of the Myanmar refugees and the undocumented Myanmar nationals in a coordinated manner, To this effect, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised a series of meetings along with all relevant Ministries! Divisions/ agencies of the Government, including, in particular, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the Ministry of Home Affairs. These meetings were attended by officers at the level of Joint Secretaries and above, and allowed free exchange of views/ recommendations from their respective areas of competence. It was decided through these consultations that a coordinated and multi-pronged Strategy Paper would bbe developed for the consideration of the Cabinet where a number of short and long term ‘measures would be suggested factoring in the pressing and emerging considerations at the national and intemational levels. Accordingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs developed the Strategy Paper and obtained and incorporated the views of all relevant Ministries! Division/ agencies into it, including those from the Cabinet Division, Prime Minister's Office, Armed Forces Division, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of CHT Affairs, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, and Statistics and Informatics Division, 05. The Strategy Paper contains the following key elements: a) Survey/ Listing of Undocumented Myanmar Nationals in Bangladesh: 1t has been suggested that a survey/ listing of undocumented Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh would be carried out in order to identify them and determine their actual number and location, The people enlisted would be identified as “Myanmar Nationals” in all relevant documents, The relevant Ministries/ agencies of the Government i.e. the Statistics and Informatics Division and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief would conduct this listing exercise, which would include a database of the listed individuals along with their bio-metric information. The listed individuals would be housed in temporary shelters in different suitable locations pending their repatriation to Myanmar through regular diplomatic/ consular channels, It has been further suggested that the existing national laws should be updated/ amended or new law and rules to be developed in order to bring to justice those involved in issuing forged passports and other certificates’ documents in favour of Myanmar nationals and providing them with shelter or illegal employment in violation of the immigration rules. b) Meeting the Basic Needs of the Listed Individuals; It has been suggested that following the listing/ identification, the concerned Myanmar Nationals are to be provided with basic medical care, potable water, sanitation facilities and other essential humanitarian services. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and local NGOs with demonstrable experience would be engaged in providing such humanitarian assistance (in lieu of international NGOs). In order to maintain international standards and mobilize necessary financial and technical assistance, °°) 4) ‘a number of development-oriented international organisations, especially certain members of the UN Country Team (ie. UNDP, WFP, UNFPA, UNICEF and IOM) would also be engaged in such humanitarian activities. Strengthening Bangladesh-Myanmar Border Management: It has been suggested that the Bangladesh-Myanmar border be brought under close surveillance through enhanced capacity building of the border security agencies with a view to arresting the continued influx of Myanmar nationals through irregular channels, It would be required to erect sufficient number of border outposts and observation towers along the entire border area, as feasible. The Bangladesh-Myanmar land border need to be sealed with barbed wire fencing, to the extent possible, and a 50 km long river dam suitable for patrolling be built on the Naaf river along the border between the two countries. It has been further suggested that identity cards be issued for Banglaee fishermen from the coastal areas in order to enhance supervision over their alleged activities in aid of influx of Myanmar nationals. In addition, intelligence and surveillance need to be strengthened in Cox’s Bazar and other coastal districts to monitor the involvement of undocumented Myanmar nationals with subversive and criminal activities. Sustaining Diplomatic Engagement with Government of Myanmar at Bilateral and Multilateral Levels: The Strategy Paper suggests continued bilateral dialogue and engagement with the Government of Myanmar to resume the repatriation process of Myanmar refugees at an early date. ‘The issue of resettlement of the remaining Myanmar refugees to interested third countries could also be considered further. The issue of ensuring the return of undocumented Myanmar nationals through regular consular mechanisms also needs to be pursued through regular bilateral engagements at the diplomatic level. The proposal of initiating a ‘Security Dialogue’ between the two countries to regularly exchange views on mutual security concerns and border management issues, mooted during the bilateral Foreign Office Consultation held in June 2013, will be pursued further. At the regional level, efforts will be taken in cooperation with other affected countries in the Asia Pacific region, ic. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, to address the issue of human trafficking and irregular movements of Myanmar nationals from the coastal areas of Bangladesh and Myanmar under the purview of different regional and sub-regional fora such as the Bali Process and others, At the international level, the root causes for the systematic persecution and deprivation of the Muslim minorities in Myanmar, especially the Muslims in Rakhine State, need to be highlighted in a consistent manner at the UN, OIC and other relevant multilateral fora, Diplomatic efforts would be maintained to highlight the situation of the Myanmar refugees and undocumented Myanmar Nationals in Bangladesh and to prevail upon the international community to remain seized with the Myanmar authorities in order to facilitate the repatriation and reintegration of their nationals now living in Bangladesh. National Level Coordination: The Strategy Paper suggests a three-stage coordination mechanism at the national level, comprising: (i) a National 06. 07. Coordination Committee under the leadership of the Hon'ble Foreign Minister; (b) a National Taskforce under the Chair of the Foreign Secretary; and (iii) Local Taskforces at District/ upazilla levels under the Chair of Deputy Commissioners! Upazilla Nirbahi Officers (UNOs). The Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) will continue to coordinate the issues concerning the 30,000 or so refugees living in the two registered camps. It is expected that implementation of the key elements of the Strategy Paper would ensure proper management of the rather complex and multi-dimensional issue of Myanmar refugees and undocumented Myanmar nationals, and eventually facilitate their voluntary repatriation to Myanmar in the near future. The Strategy Paper is also aimed at ensuring enhanced coordination in the work of the Government, NGOs and intemational organisations in addressing this protracted situation. The Cabinet approved the Strategy Paper at its regular meeting held on 09 September 2013, under the Chair of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. The Cabinet also instructed the concemed Ministries/ Divisions/ agencies of the Government to ensure implementation of the Strategy Paper and report thereon at regular intervals,