Bangladesh urged to halt returning Rohingyas

Clay Curtis
August 22, 2019

"We want to go back home".

"Bangladesh has been generous with the Rohingya - though conditions in the camps have been hard - but no refugee should feel compelled to return to a place that isn't safe".

Over the past few days, together with Bangladeshi officials, UNHCR has visited refugee families in their shelters to establish whether they wish to return to Myanmar. "They have confidence in us". Some INGOs and NGOs are instigating them (Rohingyas), he told a small group of reporters at his office. None of the 295 families consulted until now had agreed to go back, said a Bangladesh relief official, Mohammad Abul Kalam.

UNHCR appreciated the consistent commitment by the government of Bangladesh to ensure that the refugees' decisions will be respected.

Responding to a question, Dr Momen said they will identify those distributing leaflets, supplying English-written signboards and carrying out campaigns encouraging Rohingyas not to return to Myanmar.

Some 740,000, mostly Muslim, Rohingya refugees fled a military offensive in 2017 in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, joining 200,000 already in Bangladesh.

In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that repatriations had to be "voluntary".

Since Aug. 25, 2017, almost 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

The army operation led to an exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh and accusations that security forces committed mass rapes, killings and burned thousands of homes.

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A statement from the United Nations refugee agency said: "So far none of those interviewed have indicated a willingness to repatriate at this time".

An earlier repatriation attempt last November was suspended because no one was willing to go back. The agencies called on global community to increase funding to the humanitarian response in Myanmar and Bangladesh to improve the lives of refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities.

'I think it's like a ball game, there should be someone to tees off kicks off, otherwise, the game can not be started. maybe a good team never argues before the game about what kind of strategy is the best during the match, ' he said.

Myanmar refused to recognize Rohingya as citizens or even as an ethnic group, rendering them stateless, and they face other forms of state-sanctioned discrimination.

According to those in the camps, about 20 Rohingya refugees living in Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar crossed the border back to Myanmar of their own accord and have ended up in transit camps in Rahkine.

Nevertheless, Ramzan Begum said her mother-in-law had fled their home in the refugee camp Wednesday night and had not returned on Thursday.

Kalim Ullah, a refugee on the repatriation list, said his family wants to go back but Myanmar must ensure that they would be given citizenship and safety.

Myanmar, which has defended the brutal crackdown as a counterinsurgency against Rohingya militants, rejected the report.

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