Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Myanmar announces first Rohingya repatriation

Myanmar announces first Rohingya repatriation

"This is a deception", Rohingya Blogger, a watchdog and Rohingya rights website run by Rohingya activists in Europe, said in a statement on Sunday.

The agency said that in the absence of a tripartite agreement between UNHCR, Myanmar and Bangladesh, The UN agency has continued to engage with governments of both the countries in negotiations on two separate agreements meant to ensure that any future returns are conducted in line with the global standards of voluntariness, safety and dignity.

The structures will be part of the Taung Pyo Letwe receiving center for Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh to seek refuge from violence past year and who are willing to return to Burma.

A man, two women and two children were also photographed getting medical checks and ID cards.

The statement referred to the family as "Muslims". According to the United Nations chief, the assaults were allegedly perpetrated by the Myanmar Armed Forces, known as the Tatmadaw in connivance with the local militias, in the course of military "clearance" operations in October 2016 and August 2017. "The repatriated Rohingya family did not reach Bangladesh as they used to live on no-man's land", Kamal said while talking to reporters this noon.

A member of a Rohingya family is issued with her ID card.

"We were shocked to hear anybody would return here amidst volatile condition here", the Rohingya Blogger website quoted its source as saying.

Many Rohingya refugees say they fear returning to a country where they saw their relatives murdered by soldiers.

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The Rohingya Blogger site said that when the plan did not work, the family returned to Myanmar, where they were portrayed as "returnees". The Rohingya family had been living in a camp erected on a patch there [between the two countries].

Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) criticised the repatriation announcement as "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine state". Many refuse to return without a guarantee of basic rights and citizenship.

Ursula Mueller, the a United Nations senior humanitarian official, warned last week that there "critical issues of freedom of movement" that Myanmar's government needs to address before beginning repatriation, AFP reported.

"UNHCR considers that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable".

That includes "unfettered, independent monitoring" of returnees, restoration of lost homes and properties among others.

More than 670,000 Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar since last August, joining an estimated 200,000 Rohingya who have sought shelter in Bangladesh, arriving in waves over the past decades.

"Another practical measure would be to ease restrictions on movement for the internally displaced persons encamped in the central townships of Rakhine state, which would also help to build confidence among refugees in Bangladesh", it added.

The Rohingya exodus has created a humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh, a small, poor country that is one of the most densely populated in the world.

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