The tripartite agreement, signed on Wednesday (June 6th) in Nay Pyi Taw, outlines the conditions under which the voluntary return of the Rohingya can take place and where, if they wish, they can resume the journey from refugee camps in Bangladesh to their homeland in Rakhine State in western Myanmar. Raessa Touraire Ngou, Reporting Assistant: NGOU@unhcr.org – 237 693 01 73 80; Border management and refugee protection projects are based on tripartite agreements between governments, NGOs and UNHCR. The tripartite agreements ensure that UNHCR and its NGO partners will be able to visit border crossings and detention centres to determine whether asylum seekers have access to the country`s territory and to fair and effective asylum procedures. France welcomes today`s agreement between the civilian government of Burma, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The new aid programme is expected to facilitate last year`s bilateral return agreement, led and with the support of UN organizations. Although some border surveillance activities have already been carried out, tripartite agreements have formalized cooperation and defined the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved. They have put in place a framework for asylum seekers to enter a country, be protected and not afraid of being sent back to the place where they have fled. Since last summer, more than 700,000 people have fled the Bangladeshi border following military action against the Arakan Rohingya insurgent. Last November, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a bilateral agreement to facilitate return, but the agreement was strongly criticized by the international community for concerns about the safety of refugees and the lack of UN involvement. As of last February, only 8032 people had registered for the return process. The return programme provides a framework within which the role of UNHCR and UNDP in the process is defined. For the first time since August last year, when violence erupted and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee, the agreement gives the two UN bodies effective access to Rakhine State.

UN agencies will be able to visit areas of the region to determine if they meet the criteria for safe return and to set up return centres and protection programmes. This tripartite agreement is an important step in preparing the conditions for a safe, voluntary, dignified and lasting return of Rohingya refugees. It is in line with the statement of the President of the Security Council dated 6 November 2017 and the security council press statement of 9 May.