UNHCR and UNDP came to an agreement with the Myanmar Government on 31 May for the text of a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The tripartite Memorandum will establish a framework for cooperation aimed at creating the conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin or of their choosing.
Since conditions are not yet conducive for voluntary return, the MoU is the first and necessary step to support the Government’s efforts to change that situation and is also intended to support recovery and resilience-based development.
The agreement will provide a framework for UNHCR and UNDP to be given access to Rakhine State, including to refugees’ places of origin and areas of potential return that has not been permitted since violence broke out in August 2017.
The access, once effective, will allow UNHCR to assess the conditions on the ground and carry out protection activities. Eventually the UNHCR can provide independent information to refugees about the conditions in their places of origin. This will help them to make informed decisions if the conditions are right for them to return.
Freedom of movement
The MoU will also allow the two UN agencies to carry out needs assessments in affected communities and strengthen the capacity of local authorities to support the voluntary repatriation process.
The MoU, once signed, will affirm the Myanmar Government’s commitment to work with UNHCR and UNDP to find a solution for the Rohingya population, in line with the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. Recommendations include establishing a clear and voluntary pathway to citizenship and ensuring freedom of movement for all people in Rakhine State.
On 13 April 2018, the Government of Bangladesh and UNHCR also signed a MoU relating to voluntary returns of Rohingya refugees once conditions in Myanmar are deemed conducive.