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Rohingya refugee repatriation – FAIL

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PHOTO: The Straits Times

“The refugees are not willing to return now.”

This, from the Refugee Commissioner at the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh as the first wave of Rohingya refugees refused to repatriate in a program that was meant to start on Thursday.

People, due to head back to their original homes in Rhakine State this week, disappeared in the sprawling refugee camps to avoid being sent back. Other joined a large demonstrations against the repatriation. They say they don’t trust the Myanmar government or the Military.

700.000+ Rohingya Muslims fled into Bangladesh from the Rhakine state in Myanmar’s western region in August last year after their villages were set alight and destroyed in a purge from the Myanmar Military and Buddhist vigilantes which has been condemned around the world. At the time NGOs, independent inspectors, aid agencies and the UN said the actions of the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) were akin to ‘genocide’ as the Rohingya suffered killings and rape of women and children in the orchestrate purge.

UN human rights officials are urging Bangladesh to halt the repatriation process, even as it was UN refugee agency workers helping to facilitate it.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali has told reporters in Dhaka that there is no question of forcible repatriation.

“We gave them shelter so why should we send them back forcibly?”

Some refugees on the repatriation lists – which authorities say were drawn up with assistance from the UNHCR – say they don’t want to go back for fear of reprisals from the Myanmar military.

Bangladesh had planned to send an initial group of 2,251 back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day.

 

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