Concerns remain over plan to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees

The repatriation program is expected to begin on Tuesday, state media in Myanmar said, and the two countries said they wanted to return in two years to the more than 650,000 refugees who fled to the restless Rakhine state, according to a statement issued. by the Ministry.

Rights group Amnesty International called the plan "premature" and that "returning soon will be a frightening prospect" for many Rohingya.

"With memories of rape, murder and torture still fresh in the minds of the Rohingya refugees, plans for their return to Myanmar are alarmingly premature," James Gomez, Amnesty International's regional director for Southeast Asia, said in a statement. and the Pacific.

The UN, which called ethnic cleansing bloodshed, said its refugee corps was not heavily involved in the repatriation process and urged both countries to ensure that Rohingya refugees, mainly Muslims, return voluntarily.

Myanmar's New World Light said on Wednesday that Bangladesh had provided a list of more than 1,000 refugees who had been verified as Myanmar residents who were likely to be among the first group of returnees.


At a meeting in the capital of Myanmar, Naypyidaw, the two countries agreed that Bangladesh would establish five transit camps near the border between the two countries, from which returnees would initially be received in Two receptions focuses on the Myanmar side.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, Myanmar would welcome the returnees in temporary accommodation in the 124-acre Hla Pho Khung camp near Maungdaw Township, which has a capacity of 30,000 people in its 625 buildings.

The government of Myanmar will work to quickly rebuild the houses for the returnees to move there, says the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh.

  Rohingyas people burned near Maungdaw, in the north of Rakhine State, where camps have been built to return to Rohingya.

Wakar Uddin, the Managing Director of Arakan Rohingya Union, a non-profit group representing several Rohingya organizations around the world, said he had reservations about safety of Rohingya once they have returned to Myanmar.

"It's a bad business because the refugees will be transferred from a camp in Bangladesh to another camp in Burma, where there will be serious security concerns," he said, using another name for Myanmar.

In early January, the Myanmar armed forces admitted involvement in the murder of 10 Rohingya Muslims found in a mbad grave last month in Rakhine State.

Refugees have fled to Bangladesh with accounts of mbad killings, systematic rape and burning of villages by the military and local vigilantes.

The Myanmar government says that the bloodshed was the result of a military offensive against the militants who carried out coordinated attacks at the border posts and that the civilians were not attacked.

Both the UN and the United States have called the violence of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country in which Rohingya Muslims represent only a small fraction of the general population.

UN minimum participation

The agreement is unusual because it did not involve the UN refugee agency UNHCR beyond the consultation stage, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday. press.

"We believe that it would be very important for UNHCR to be fully involved in the operation to ensure that the operation meets international standards," he said. He added that it was "essential" to ensure that the return of the refugee population is voluntary.

"It is in security and dignity that people are allowed to return to their places of origin, which means that a great investment effort must be made, because a great reconstruction has to be done and a great effort of reconciliation is needed. necessary to allow it to take place properly. "

He said that the "worst" situation would be if the refugees were simply relocated to camps in Myanmar, "maintaining an artificial situation for a long time and not allowing them to regain their normal lives."

He said the UN was ready to "support a movement that takes place, as I said, based on voluntariness, security, dignity and with respect to international standards."

Able to live freely?

Clarissa Ward of CNN, which has talked to dozens of Rohingya families in camps in Bangladesh, says the plan presents more questions than answers.

If overseas supervisors will monitor the transition or the continued safety of the returnees, will they be able to live freely in the villages, or They will end up in the de facto internment camps in Rakhine are uncertain.

This uncertainty is being given to campers in camps throughout the border break, he said.

"It is very difficult to contemplate how the Rohingya Muslims could contemplate how to return in such huge numbers without guarantee of safety when the Rohingya Muslims who currently live in Myanmar live mainly in de facto internment camps," he said.

While the parties in Bangladesh and Myanmar discussed the practical aspects of the repatriation of the Rohingya, Ward said that neither was committed to issues much more related to human rights or security.

Kocha Olarn of CNN, Rebecca Wright, Clarissa Ward, Angus Watson and James Griffiths contributed to this report.

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