Jakarta. The Indonesian government has agreed to provide Rp 7.5 billion ($536,000) in grant to help the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
The assistance for the Myanmar government was channeled through the regional grouping Asean, signed in Jakarta on Friday by Asean’s deputy secretary general for community and corporate affairs Robert Matheus Michael Tenne and Indonesian Finance Ministry’s financing and risk management director general Luky Alfirman.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the grant was an implementation of the government’s commitment to provide assistance in solving Rohingya refugee crisis expressed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during the Asean Summit in Bangkok last month.
“Asean has no choice but to work harder and in concert to tackle this issue, to underline Asean’s continued relevance in regional security and peace and ensure Asean’s contribution to the prosperity of its people,” Retno said after witnessing the signing ceremony at her office, accompanied by Asean Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi.
The Asean Secretariat has established an ad-hoc support team to facilitate repatriation of refugees to Myanmar’s Rakhine State, based on recommendation from the November summit.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled Rakhine State in Myanmar since August 2017, amid a military crackdown against the predominantly Muslim minority group following coordinated attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on 24 police posts and an army base that left 71 dead.
The Indonesian government wants that the repatriation be conducted voluntarily, safely and in dignity, Retno said.
In support of the repatriation, Retno said Asean members need to increase capacity in reception centers and transit areas, disseminate information to build confidence among the displaced people in Cox's Bazar -- a city in Bangladesh where many Rohingya refugees have fled to -- and provide basic services including education, healthcare and clean water.
The Indonesian government has earlier completed the construction of a hospital in Mrauk U district, Rakhine State, and handed it over to the Myanmar government. The hospital construction involved local people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.