Government: Myanmar Repatriates First Rohingya Refugee Family

Rohingya crisis

Government: Myanmar Repatriates First Rohingya Refugee Family

Bangladesh has already handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of the displaced people to their homeland in Rakhine but there is no sign of their repatriation yet.

The Rohingya family had been living in a camp erected on a patch there [between the two countries].

A Facebook post on the official page of Myanmar's Information Committee appears to show the family getting health checks and receiving packages of rice, mosquito netting and blankets.

The United Nations says the operation amounts to ethnic cleansing, but Myanmar has denied the charge, saying its troops targeted Rohingya militants.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in November to repatriate three-quarters of a million Rohingya by the end of the year but the deal has been delayed indefinitely, with each side blaming the other for a lack of preparation.

Myanmar has repeatedly said it is ready for repatriation, but no date has been given for the return, and scepticism is rife in Bangladesh and elsewhere that a stalled refugee return plan will ever be implemented.

It said that the family had been sent to stay "temporarily" with relatives in Rakhine state's Maungdaw town after "finishing the repatriation process".

A government statement said Saturday that five members of a family returned to western Rakhine state from the border area.

Director of Centre for Genocide Studies at Dhaka University professor Imtiaz Ahmed said Bangladesh now has a Rohingya population, which is far more than Bhutan's entire population.

Many Rohingya worry national verification cards will brand them with a permanent immigration status, meaning they can't become full citizens of Myanmar. Again, Myanmar officials blamed Bangladesh for that, saying the forms were not properly filled up.

Myanmar officials could not be reached for further details and the post did not say whether any more returns were expected soon.

Most Burmese consider the Rohingya as unwanted immigrants from Bangladesh, and the army refers to them as "Bengalis".

The repatriation announcement is "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine State", said Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

They have been systematically stripped of their citizenship in recent decades and forced to live in apartheid-like conditions with severely restricted access to health care, education and other basic services. "I hope Myanmar will repatriate all the refugee families within the shortest possible time", he told reporters after a meeting at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday that "conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable".

The conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for the safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees to their homes, the United Nations refugee agency said, underlining that the responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the countrys authorities.

Myanmar authorities have since bulldozed numerous burned villages, raising alarm from rights groups who say they are erasing evidence of atrocities and obscuring the Rohingya's ties to the country.

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