Rohingyas 'terrified' about repatriation, say aid groups

Rohingyas 'terrified' about repatriation, say aid groups

Rohingyas 'terrified' about repatriation, say aid groups

Although the list has not been released to the public or the news media, Myanmar officials issued statements earlier this week saying that dozens of Rohingya who were being considered for repatriation had been "involved in terrorism".

Meanwhile, Dhaka has assured that no individual will be forced to return.

More than 700,000 of them are languishing in Bangladeshi refugee camps, after fleeing a brutal Myanmar army campaign in August a year ago.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that the condition was not safe for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar from Bangladesh, even as the two countries were preparing for the return process on Monday, set to start later this week.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal last week to start returning some of the more than 723,000 Rohingya who fled state-sponsored violence against their communities in August 2017.

A Bangladesh foreign ministry official in Dhaka said while they would be moving forward with the repatriation on November 15 as planned, determining that each refugee return was voluntary would be the responsibility of the UN's refugee agency.

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While Bangladesh has insisted that all repatriations will be voluntary, there is evidence that pressure is being put on Rohingya refugees on the list, who are being told by Bangladesh officials to be "ready to leave".

UNHCR spokesman Mr Firas Al-Khateeb confirmed this, but added that it had not yet fully resolved the issue despite the tight timeframe.

Urging Myanmar to play a constructive role in resolving the Rohingya issue, the U.S. said the country should address the root causes of the crisis in the Rakhine state and provide access to a transparent and efficient citizenship verification process, freedom of movement and access to livelihoods to the minority Muslims.

In remarks delivered last month at the United Nations, Yanghee Lee said the Rohingya "should not go back to ... the oppressive laws, the discrimination".

Rohingya refugees say Myanmar soldiers and local Buddhists carried out mass killings and rape during the violence past year, while the United Nations has accused the military of "genocidal intent".

" 'People are so afraid of being identified, they are avoiding Friday prayers at the mosque, ' said one refugee, who has fled with his family from Jamtoli to the large Kutupalong camp to evade repatriation".

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This has prompted criticism from a group of 42 aid agencies - including Oxfam, WorldVision and Save the Children - who say that it would be risky for them.

In the meantime, numerous refugees fear for their lives: "We really want to go back, but not without citizenship. So, how can we take action against them?" he said.

"I have a 13-year-old daughter and her name is there in the list", he said.

Refugee returns should only take place at their freely expressed wish based on relevant and reliable knowledge of the conditions within the country of origin and the area of return. They must give us citizenship and a normal life, like the other people are living in Myanmar.

"They want assurances that the extreme human rights violations they have suffered will stop, and those responsible for the violence they fled will be brought to justice", the statement said.

Cases against journalists in Myanmar have further tarnished the reputation of one-time rights icon Suu Kyi, whose legacy fell apart during the Rohingya crisis.

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The offer was made in May when Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh in May.

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