23 February 2020

Fearful, Rohingya refugees reject planned repatriation

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The planned repatriation of some 3,500 Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh to Myanmar on Thursday did not happen, said officials, as the members of the persecuted group were unwilling to return due to safety fears and other concerns. reports citing Turkish media.

Not a single one of 3,450 Rohingya Muslims slated for return expressed a willingness to go, citing security issues, while Bangladeshi officials made assurances that no one would be sent back by force.

“If any Rohingya refugee express a willingness to return we will repatriate them to Myanmar, but none of the listed Rohingya people expressed a willingness to go back to their country,” Mohammad Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told Anadolu Agency.

Bangladesh will not force any refugees to return, he added, speaking at a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.

All preparations including five vehicles will remain ready at the refugee camps until next week if any Rohingya want to return willingly, he added.

In order to return, the displaced Rohingya sought conditions including full citizenship, the safety to freely move in Myanmar, return of their property, and safety monitoring from the international community.

“We never return without a grant or getting our full citizenship rights. There is no safety, security inside of Myanmar’s Rakhine state for the Rohingya,” Khin Maung, a refugee in Cox’s Bazar, told the Anadolu Agency over phone.

The Rohingya are ready if Myanmar’s government agreed to restore full citizenships rights, he added, saying Myanmar is not changing at all because it faced no consequences from its actions.

Myanmar reportedly put 3,450 Rohingya on a “repatriation list” from a list of more than 22,000 Rohingya provided by the government of Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said in a statement that the global body had interviewed scores of Rohingya refugees along with the Bangladeshi government and none of them were willing to go to Myanmar.

"UNHCR has been assisting the Government of Bangladesh in surveying these refugees on whether they wish to return to Myanmar and to confirm the voluntariness of any individual decision to do so," said the agency on Thursday.

2019.08.22 / 23:16
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