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Myanmar's Rohingya crisis could create a 'grave threat to security': International Crisis Group

An international NGO warned on Thursday that the Rohingya Muslim refugees in Myanmar may not be willing to voluntarily return to the country and remain in extensive camps in Bangladesh, creating a "serious security threat" with outbreaks of additional violence and recruitment by jihadists .

A 25-page report by the International Crisis Group, a transnational non-profit NGO that conducts research on violent conflicts, examines events that led to deadly attacks at police outposts by the Rohingya Arakan Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25 in the north Rakhine State, which provoked a brutal military crackdown against Rohingya.

It also assesses the impact that the crisis, which has driven more than 620,000 Rohingya to seek security across the border in Bangladesh, will take in Myanmar and offers a possible international policy responses.

Although Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on November 23 for the voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees who led the crackdown, the likelihood that many of them will return north of Rakhine seems unlikely in the near future, the report says.

"The prospects are extremely tenuous for the return of a significant number of Rohingya refugees to their areas of origin in Myanmar in the short or medium term," he said, adding that the repatriation agreement should be seen as "a declaration of intentions instead of a sign that return is imminent. "

Myanmar agreed to recover the Rohingya who wish to return if they can prove prior residency in the country and show that they left after October 9, 2016, date on which a smaller-scale attack by ARSA caused another offensive by the forces of security.

"But the main obstacle to repatriation is very unlikely that they want to do so," the report said, citing the unsustainable situation on the land in northern Rakhine and the continuous flow of Rohingya out of the region.

ICG cited other obstacles, including Myanmar's lack of clarity on whether the Rohingyas will be allowed to return to their places of origin and reclaim their farmland, the provision of the issuance of National Verification Cards that many Rohingya reject because they are relegated to a second-class state, and the fear that some may be arrested on their return if the government suspects they are militants or supporters of ARSA.

In addition, processing Rohingya return documents and issuing identification documents would overwhelm official capacity and resources, since only 300 returnees can be processed daily. says the report.

"Fundamentally, neither the government nor the security forces possess the political will to create conditions for voluntary return and implement a credible and effective process for that purpose," he said.

"This raises the possibility of a long-term concentration of hundreds of thousands of traumatized Rohingya confined to squalid camps in Bangladesh, with no obvious hope for the future.That would not only be a human tragedy, but also a serious threat for security, "he said.

"Such a context would be ripe to mobilize more violent responses and potential transnational jihadist recruitment," the report said.

The majority of ARSA members in refugee camps in Bangladesh, the militant group could begin to carry out cross-border attacks that could lead to clashes between the armed forces of Bangladesh and Myanmar, ICG said.

In addition, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups, which have expressed their solidarity with the Rohingya, have called for attacks against Myanmar and its leaders, posing a major threat to the country's security.

The ICG recommended that the international community and lawmakers remain committed to Myanmar, continue with development assistance, humanitarian support and non-military engagement, minimize the impact of targeted sanctions on people who have committed a crime so they do not. affect the economy of the country and engage with the military before imposing sanctions.


Win Myat Aye (2nd of L) and Malaysian volunteers have boxes of relief supplies from a ship from Malaysia that delivers aid to the Rohingya Muslims at Thilawa Port, Yangon, February 9, 2017.

Credit: AFP

Repatriation in January

The report was issued on the same day that Win Myat Aye, minister of social welfare, relief and assistance of Myanmar resettlement, told diplomats in the country's capital, Naypyidaw, that the country would begin repatriating Rohingya refugees in January.

Despite Myanmar's agreement with Bangladesh for the voluntary return of Rohingya, there has been no sign of a real effort to return them. 19659002] "We are going to form a joint working committee within three weeks," he said. "We will begin the process of accepting them again two months after the date we signed the memorandum of understanding."

"As soon as [the Rohingya] returns to Rakhine, they must have an identification card, such as a Verification Card. national, who can identify who to send are, "he said. "If they have this, they will be in the process of national verification and can apply for citizenship."

The Myanmar Citizenship Act of 1982 prevents the Rohingya from becoming citizens because they are not recognized as one of the 135 Myat Aye also heads a government committee created in September to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on the status of Rakhine, a group led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, whose report calls for reviews of country reports. The Law of Citizenship and the end of restrictions on its Muslim minority Rohingya to prevent further violence in the region.

The minister, who was discussing the repatriation efforts of the Trade Unions for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD), also said that the government will not allow the refugees to remain in temporary camps for long and will rebuild within two months the houses of those whose houses were burned.

Approximately 600 Hindus who fled the attacks of Muslim militants in their villages also want to return to the north of Rakhine.

President Htin Kyaw created the UEHRD in October to oversee the provision of humanitarian aid in the Rakhine State, coordinate resettlement and rehabilitation efforts, carry out regional development, promote lasting peace, and organize fund audits of the state and local and foreign donors.

State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of Myanmar, chairs the UEHRD.

Rakhine legislator weighs in

Maung Maung Ohn, former prime minister of Rakhine State and lawmaker of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development (USDP) party representing the municipality of Ann, told the Myanmar service of RFA which is understandable the frustration of the international community with the crisis.

"We have to accept the frustration of the international community with the government's approach to solving Rakhine's problem, but it's not like that, and the Myanmar government is not working on it," he said.

Maung Maung Ohn said that a solution to the crisis should take into account not only human rights, but also national sovereignty.

"We have to find a deep and acceptable way to solve the problem," he said. "This way, it should not damage our sovereignty and should be one that the international community can accept." I hope we can make progress if the government forms a group and works together with international organizations. "

" We must consider human rights as well as the sovereignty of the nation when we are solving this problem, "he said." We have more pressure on us than before because the international community is talking and looking only at human rights. "[19659002] Reported by Win Ko Ko Latt and Thinn Thiri for the Myanmar RFA Service Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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