Dhaka, Bangladesh
Return of Rohingyas to their land

Return of Rohingyas to their land

In a sudden move, Myanmar has taken back five Rohingyas from no man’s land between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and even the international media has dubbed as the repatriation of the first refugee family since the crisis began in August last year. Shortly after welcoming the Rohingyas early on 15 April, the Myanmar government in a statement said that “The five members of a family came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine State this morning”. The family , consisting of Aktar Alam, his wife Sajeda Begum, daughter Tahera , son Tarek Aziz and neighbour Shawkat Ara were provided with national verification cards. But such cards have been rejected by Rohingyas who want full rights of citizenship. In fact the Bangladesh Home Minister has said that such an announcement was nothing but a farce , while rights activists and experts said that the one-sided step by Myanmar is an eyewash and public relations stunt. Several thousand families have been stranded in the no man’s land between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Taking back only one Rohingya family out of thousands of people living in the no man’s land is nothing but a ridiculous move by the Myanmar government More than 1.1 million Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a bilateral deal for the repatriation in November, 2017. The UN High Commissioner for refugees has said that the conditions in Myanmar were not yet conducive to safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the Rohingyas. Andre Giorgetta of the International Federation for Human Rights has commented that Myanmar’s announcement of repatriation is a “ public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed against Rohingyas in Rakhine state . The UNHCR considers that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified and sustainable. The responsibility for creation of such conditions remains with Myanmar and these must go beyond the preparation of physical infrastructure to facilitate logistical arrangements . The Government of Myanmar should immediately provide UNHCR and other relevant agencies with full and unhindered access to refugees’ places of origin in Rakhine State. Another practical measure would be to ease restrictions for internally displaced persons in the central townships of Rakhine State. This would also help build confidence among refugees in Bangladesh .Such concrete measures would help demonstrate to Rohingya refugees that Myanmar government is committed to a sustainable solution. The UNDP and UNHCR has to outline to the Myanmar Government the scope of cooperation in Rakhine State.

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