Bangladesh and Myanmar have decided to repatriate the Rohingya Muslims, who had fled violence in Rakhine state in 2017
The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar will make a fresh attempt to repatriate thousands of Rohingya Muslims who had fled the Rakhine state fearing ethnic cleansing. As many as 7, 00,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled to the neighboring regions after military-led crackdown in 2017.
According to UN agency UNHCR, “The Government of Myanmar has confirmed that 3,450 Rohingya refugees are eligible to return. This is a welcome first step as it acknowledges that your right to return is recognized.”
The UNHCR also stated that the Bangladesh government has prepared the list of Rohingya Muslims who have been approved for repatriation. “The Government requested UNHCR to speak with these refugees to determine whether they wish to return. In this way, UNHCR will seek to ensure that any return is voluntary,” the agency document stated.
A senior Bangladeshi official said that the repatriation plan is “small-scale” and nobody will be forced to return. However, activist Mohammed Eleyas has asserted that the refugees were not consulted before the repatriation plan was drawn.
This is the second time the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims will be attempted. None of the 2,000 Rohingya had agreed to return to Myanmar voluntarily in November last year.
At least one million Rohingya live in dismal conditions in refugee camps of Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar. Many Rohingya fear returning to government camps in Myanmar, which they believe would be similar to “open air prisons”.
A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) had stated that “no evidence of widespread preparation for Rohingya refugees to return to safe and dignified conditions” has been found. It further added that the burning and widespread destruction of Rohingya villages had continued until this year and there was nothing to return to.