Bangladesh, UN in efforts to persuade Rohingya to return

Published 20.08.2019 00:08

Bangladesh will work with the U.N. refugee agency to determine if more than 3,000 Rohingya refugees will accept Myanmar's offer to return home, an official said yesterday, nearly a year after a major repatriation plan failed. "It will be a joint exercise led by the UNHCR," Abul Kalam, Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation commissioner, told Reuters by telephone yesterday, referring to the refugee agency.

In July, Myanmar officials went to the camps in Bangladesh to talk to the refugees about their plans and preparations to bring them back, the latest of several similar visits. So far, most refugees appear to distrust the promises and believe it is too dangerous to return. It is unclear when any repatriation might begin, given the need to find and check all the individuals and the fact that there is a major holiday at the moment in Bangladesh, experts say. It is also possible that the process may stall, as it did last year.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine for camps in Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017 the U.N. has said was perpetrated with "genocidal intent," and many refugees refuse to go back, fearing more violence. The Rohingya have long been treated as outsiders in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all Rohingya have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

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