Current Affairs, 21 December 2017
India on 20 December 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Myanmar to develop Rakhine state, the region from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled to Bangladesh following a military crackdown, resulting in one of the world’s biggest refugee crisis.
The agreement was signed by India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Myanmar's Deputy Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung.
According to India’s External Affairs Ministry, the MoU is the first government to government agreement signed by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar with a cooperation partner focussed on socio-economic development and livelihood initiatives in the Rakhine State.
The MoU aims to help the government of Myanmar achieve its objective of restoring normalcy to the Rakhine region and enable the safe return of the displaced Rohingya community.
Under the MoU, the Indian government has proposed to take up, among others, a project to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State, so as to meet the immediate needs of returning people.
• The visit by India’s Foreign Secretary Jaishankar to Myanmar is of great strategic importance, as more than 650,000 Rohingyas had fled to neighbouring nation Bangladesh ever since violence erupted in Rakhine in August 2017.
• The minority Rohingya community does not enjoy citizenship in Myanmar.
• Human rights monitors have accused Myanmar's military of atrocities against the Rohingyas.
• The United Nations, in fact, termed the violence against the Rohingyas in Rakhine, as ethnic cleansing.
India’s role in the crisis
The Indian Government refused to give refuge to the fleeing Rohingyas stating that they are a threat to the country’s national security and peace.
The government, however, stated that it would help out in their rehabilitation process.
India maintained that the issue should be handled in a humane manner and development activities should be initiated in Rakhine State and conditions should be created for the safe and secure return of the refugees to their homes.