BANGKOK – The World Bank has offered Myanmar $100 million in aid for development projects in the conflict-torn state of Rakhine, hit by violence in 2017 that led to the exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingyas, a Muslim minority community, to neighboring Bangladesh.
The offer came during a three-day visit by the World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, Ms. Victoria Kwakwa, to Myanmar, according to a statement released after the conclusion of the visit.
The World Bank “supports, in collaboration with the UN and other partners, to put in place the conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees,” read the statement.
The aid would be used in projects in Rakhine with a focus on job creation, micro and small-enterprise development and to ensure access to essential services for all communities, including repatriated refugees.
During her meeting with Myanmar State Counselor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Kwakwa discussed the importance of inclusive and sustainable development for all communities in Myanmar, according to the statement.
The UN rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, had warned two days ago in Bangladesh that the return of the Rohingya refugees – whom Myanmar considers to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh – would be delayed as the situation in Myanmar was not yet favorable for their repatriation.
On Nov. 17, Myanmar and Bangladesh had signed an agreement for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees living in the Bangladeshi refugee camps, which should have begun in January.
The UN also signed an agreement with Myanmar in June to pave the way to recognize rights of the Rohingya community.