Bangladesh to blame if Rohingya returns delayed: Myanmar gov’t

UN special envoy on human rights Yanghee Lee has urged a halt to the'rushed plans to repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar

UN special envoy on human rights Yanghee Lee has urged a halt to the'rushed plans to repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar

After repeated setbacks, the neighbouring countries declared that the first of more than 2,200 Rohingya Muslims would be repatriated on November 15, even though global NGOs and the United Nations have said conditions are not yet in place for a safe return.

Some 720,000 Rohingya fled their homes in Myanmar to take refuge in Bangladesh following a sweeping and bloody crackdown on the Muslim minority in August 2017.

Officials said Sunday that returnees can get an ID document called a National Verification Card that will allow them to travel anywhere in the Maungdaw area of Rakhine State.

"They fled to Bangladesh to seek safety and they are very grateful to the Government of Bangladesh for giving them a safe haven", the group of 42 aid agencies and civil society said in a statement that referred to the push as "dangerous".

On Sunday, officials in Myanmar announced that Bangladesh had said repatriations would begin on Thursday, with an initial group of 2,251 to be sent back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights said the Myanmar government has failed to provide guarantees that the Rohingya refugees will not suffer persecution and horrific violence again.

"But we must be ready from our side".

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Myanmar and Bangladesh signed the deal in November 2017 but the United Nations has repeatedly said that any repatriations must be "safe, dignified and voluntary". "Nobody will be forced to go back", he told Reuters. The scale, organization and ferocity of the operation led to accusations from the global community, including the United Nations, of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

It isn't clear how long the returnees would have to stay in the transit camps or where they would go afterward, as many Rohingya villages have been erased by bulldozers, with the land given to local Rakhine Buddhists.

Bangladesh summoned Myanmar's ambassador to lodge a protest but Aung San Suu Kyi's government says it has looked into the allegation and denies it ever happened. Attacks by Rohingya insurgents calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army preceded the crackdown.

Reuters says the court's ruling was wrong and lawyers for the two have appealed against their conviction. Myanmar authorities should allow these refugees to undertake such go-and-see visits without prejudice to their right to return at a later date, if indeed the refugees decide after the visits that the current conditions in Rakhine State would not allow them to return in safety and dignity.

The fresh diplomatic row started after a Bangladesh border guard official said that a 15-year-old Rohingya refugee was shot in the elbow on November 4 while grazing cows after multiple rounds were fired from a security post across the demarcation line.

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