The South Asian Times

18 January 2019 11:04 AM

Rohingya repatriation process yet to take off: UNHCR


Dhaka, Dec 6: A bilateral agreement signed by Dhaka and Naypyidaw over the repatriation of the Muslim minority Rohingyas, hundreds of thousands of whom had fled to Bangladesh following a crackdown by the Myanmar Army, is yet to take off on the ground, an official from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Wednesday.

According to the agreement signed on November 23, the repatriation process should begin within two months. "Nothing is going on at this stage," UNHCR Senior Regional Public Information Officer Mohammed Abu Asaker told Efe news.

According to the UNHCR, the process might be stalled owing to Myanmar's precondition that the refugees will be repatriated only after due verification of their documents.

The official stressed that the return of around 626,000 refugees -- many of whom have either lost or have no valid identification papers -- currently living in Bangladesh should be voluntary, safe and sustainable.

"Conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for the return (of Rohingyas)," he said.

Several refugees in Bangladesh alleged that even after three months since the crisis erupted, the Myanmar Army was still razing Rohingya villages.

The Rohingyas -- who are denied citizenship by Myanmar -- continue to flee the country with hundreds of new arrivals recorded in Bangladesh every day.

The Myanmar Army has repeatedly denied that its offensive in Rakhine in western Myanmar, that began on August 25, following a series of attacks by Rohingya rebels against multiple government posts in the region, had targeted civilians.

However, the UNHCR, the US and various other human rights organisations described the offensive as "ethnic cleansing".

On Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra'ad had said the repression of the Rohingyas by the Myanmar Army had all the characteristics of a genocide.

Update: 06 Dec, 2017