Rohingya refugees to be repatriated next year, says Saifuddin

Efforts to help the community return to their homeland were initiated by the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Special Taskforce. (Bernama pic)

KUANTAN: The repatriation of the Rohingya community to Rakhine, Myanmar, is likely to be implemented by next year, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said.

He said efforts to help the community return to their homeland were initiated by the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Special Taskforce led by his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan.

“This special task force will go to Myanmar at the end of this month to discuss the quickest way to help the Rohingya community return to their country.

“We do not know how fast this process can be implemented, but it should be initiated because as long as it does not start, the problem involving the Rohingya refugees will persist.

“It is important for us to help these people return to their home country, as otherwise, it would be condoning the ‘ethnic cleansing’ which is currently happening,” he said after opening a workshop for teachers here today.

Saifuddin, who is also Indera Mahkota MP, said among the initiatives expected to be implemented by the special task force is to set up a monitoring team to ensure the safety of the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

He said such a team was vital as the Rohingya refugees feared returning to their homeland due to oppression.

Security risks have seen about one million Rohingya refugees stranded in Bangladesh, where the Malaysian government had also assisted through the setting up of field hospitals in the Cox’s Bazar region.

“The Rohingya community in Malaysia has been aided in terms of their children’s education, without involving government funds.

“So far, there are six NGOs who have set up child education centres for the Rohingya children, relying on their own funding or international donations, including from the Qatar Foundation,” Saifuddin said.

He also said the human resources ministry had attempted to help the Rohingya community, but a pilot programme involving 300 people did not take off.

“Maybe the job provided was not appropriate or the method used… so the ministry involved is looking for a way to help them get jobs,” he said.