Rohingya repatriation 'physical arrangement' deal struck

Frederick Owens
January 17, 2018

More than 650,000 Rohingya fled northern Rakhine in the wake of a sweeping counteroffensive Myanmar army's launched in response to ARSA's attack on police and military outposts in the area in late August.

"The obfuscation and denials of the Myanmar authorities give no reason to hope that the rights of returning Rohingya would be protected, or that the reasons for their original flight no longer exist". They are generally called "Bengalis", a reference to the belief that they migrated illegally from Bangladesh.

Myanmar officials say a camp to house Rohingya Muslim and Hindu refugees who return from Bangladesh will be ready by its promised deadline next week. "I won't feel safe if I go back to Myanmar", said Rashid Ahmed, 33. "They should return our land and also rebuild our homes", he said.

He said Bangladesh and Myanmar could surely have bilateral talks and sign agreements, but the Rohingya crisis was no more a bilateral issue. The two sides agreed to form two Technical Working Group, one on verification and the other on return of the refugees.

The board is charged with helping implement recommendations for ending the crisis written by a commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"They will not allow a single Rohingya to live there", he said.

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Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary at Burma's Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, told Reuters earlier this month Burma would be ready to begin processing least 150 people a day through each of the two camps by January 23.

"Returns can not be safe or dignified until there is a fundamental change in Myanmar, including accountability for crimes against humanity and an end to the apartheid system", the rights group said.

State-run media in Myanmar reported Monday that a camp is being prepared that can accommodate about 30,000 people in 625 buildings, and that at least 100 buildings will be completed by the end of the month.

The UN and various human rights organisations have said there is clear evidence of rights abuses in Myanmar, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling the Army's operations "ethnic cleansing" and saying there were indications of a "genocide".

However, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday that it has not been invited to take part or given full access to the areas where refugees are to return.

But campaign groups say the agreement only endangers the Rohingya further. It's progress on a deal the countries struck in November, but there's still no details on how many Rohingya would be let back in, or if their safety would be guaranteed.

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