Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Bangladesh says will coordinate with United Nations over Rohingya return

Rohingya Muslims wait for permission to move towards refugee camps Bangladesh says will coordinate with United Nations over Rohingya return
Charlie Simmons | 22 January, 2018, 02:38

Dhaka: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Saturday asked for guarantees that their safety and security would be protected and that they would be granted Myanmar citizenship before being repatriated to Rakhine state.

They will start receiving Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh at two reception centres and the temporary camp near Maungtaw starting on Tuesday and continuing over the next two years, under the agreement two countries signed this week.

Several Rohingya elders in the refugee camp housing some 650,500 Muslim Rohingya said they would refuse to go back to Buddhist Myanmar if their demands are ignored.

Dozens of refugees stood holding cloth banners opposing their transfer as United Nations Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee visited camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border over the weekend.

The commission proposed addressing the rights of Rohingyas to resolve sectarian violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, including measures such as speeding up the verification process for citizenship and granting citizenship by naturalisation.

A list of demands that Myanmar authorities must meet has been drawn up by Rohingya leaders in Kutupalong, a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Contacted, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam said, "We are preparing the list of the Rohingya families as agreed in the first meeting of Joint Working Group".

The repatriation plan involves the returnees being housed in more camps until their destroyed homes are rebuilt.

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The petition, handwritten in Burmese, is yet to be finalised. "Innocent Rohingya" detained in counter-insurgency operations are to be released from jails and the military is to be held responsible for alleged killings, rape, and looting, according to Reuters.

The repatriation process will begin on January 23 and last two years. At the camps, the UN Refugee Agency will assess if the refugees are willing to return, Kalam said.

It also wants Myanmar to stop listing people with their photographs as "terrorists" in state media and on government Facebook pages.

She visited different sections of the refugee camp from 8:30am to 1pm on Sunday and heard first-hand account on the atrocities committed against the Rohingyas and assured the refugees of safe rehabilitation.

The current crisis erupted on August 25, when the Myanmar Army launched an operation in Rakhine, where around 1 million Rohingyas were living, in retaliation against an attack on multiple government outposts by a Rohingya insurgent group.

"They do not want to go back to uncertainty".

Bangladesh on Sunday sought to reassure the global community that a planned repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to conflict-scarred western Myanmar would be "voluntary" and in coordination with the United Nations. Rights groups and the United Nations say any repatriation must be voluntary.

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