Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Rohingya repatriation plan has no safety guarantee, experts say

Chaos and confusion as Rohingya refugee repatriations set to begin First Rohingya are to be returned to Myanmar killing ground
Deanna Wagner | 16 November, 2018, 10:24

More than 720,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya sought refuge from a Myanmar military crackdown launched from August a year ago that United Nations investigators say amounted to ethnic cleansing, joining some 300,000 already in Bangladesh.

"We can not forcefully send them back as we want them to volunteer". Most will also be unable to return to their original homes and villages because they were burned down by the military in the crackdown.

A Bangladesh official said Wednesday that authorities are ready to begin repatriating more than 2200 northern Rakhine refugees to Myanmar.

More than 700,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border to join around 400,000 refugees in Bangladesh after Myanmar launched an army operation against the minority Muslims on Aug 25 previous year after insurgent attacks on security posts.

At a special camp nearby, five buses waited to carry volunteers to the border.

The release said that the U.S.is following developments closely regarding the joint plans of Bangladesh and Myanmar to repatriate Rohingya. "If repatriation happens, maybe two years later they will drive us out again with beatings and torture". I escaped to Bangladesh with two others.

In the confidential document dated November 2018, UNHCR said it would only provide aid if returnees were allowed back to the villages they had left or to other locations chosen by them. They will kill the rest of my family.

Kalim Ullah, 42, son of Bacha Mia of Jamtoli camp under Ukhiya police, fled the camp with his family members to Balokhali refugees at his relative's shade to avoid repatriation.

The UN had urged Bangladesh to suspend the programme, with rights chief Michelle Bachelet saying it would be like "throwing them back to the cycle of human rights violations that this community has been suffering for decades". "But the Rohingyas do not think Myanmar is safe for them as yet", Refugee Repatriation and Relief Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam told bdnews24.com on Thursday night.

Shabir Ahmed was among the protesters and told Sky News: "We don't trust Myanmar's government because they are liars".

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Last week, the U.N.'s independent investigator for human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, called the plans "rushed" and said she was concerned there were no guarantees that the refugees would be protected from new persecution if they return home.

United Nations agencies say they have received only a fraction of the billion-plus dollars needed to pay for their operations for the year.

So while the Myanmar government talks about building temporary shelters, offering medical care and sufficient food rations for Rohingyas who return, many worldwide observers insist the root causes of the violence and hate-filled attitudes need to be properly tackled before Rohingyas can return home and live with safety and dignity.

Myanmar, however, is still refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing in its treatment of the Rohingyas.

Trudeau said he has raised the issue with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but while he saw her at the ASEAN summit, he "didn't actually have a conversation".

Still, the program sparked protests among some refugees, while others reportedly hid within refugee camps out of fear of being forced to go back.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet said many refugees were panicking at the prospect of being sent back against their will.

Myanmar classifies Rohingyas as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, denying them citizenship and imposing a number of restrictions, including limits on their freedom of movement. He said the only condition under which they were prepared to return to Myanmar was if they were given citizenship.

Following pressure from the worldwide community and widespread criticism, Myanmar signed an agreement with Bangladesh in the beginning of this year to take back the recently displaced Rohingyas, but the process was delayed for different reasons.

"With an nearly complete lack of accountability - indeed with ongoing violations - returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar at this point effectively means throwing them back into the cycle of human rights violations that this community has been suffering for decades", she said in a statement.