Myanmar: First Rohingya refugees repatriated amid rights outcry

Myanmar: First Rohingya refugees repatriated amid rights outcry

Last week, the most senior United Nations official to visit Myanmar this year, the assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Ursula Mueller, said conditions in Myanmar were not conducive to the return of the refugees.

A government statement says five members of a family returned to western Rakhine state from a refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh, reports AP.

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.

Waves of violence have forced Rohingya out of Myanmar over the past several years, with more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh before last year's exodus. "We're trying to know about it", he told reporters apparently expressing displeasure over the claim through global media.

Photos released by Myanmar's State Counselor Information Committee seemed to show the Rohingya family receiving check-ups, food, mosquito netting and, somewhat controversially, national verification cards.

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: refugees will be allowed to return to "as soon as possible", a minister said, despite a stillborn repatriation process and United Nations warnings that the safety of returnees could not be guaranteed.

The agency said that in the absence of a tripartite agreement between UNHCR, Myanmar and Bangladesh, The UN agency has continued to engage with governments of both the countries in negotiations on two separate agreements meant to ensure that any future returns are conducted in line with the worldwide standards of voluntariness, safety and dignity.

Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) blasted the repatriation announcement as "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine State". "There is no way to call it repatriation ... under no criteria it's repatriation ... its nothing but a hoax".

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Fleeing Rohingya refugees have reported suffering including killings, sexual assaults and arson on a large scale, according to Reuters.

Doctors Without Borders says the violence claimed at least 6,700 Rohingya lives in the first month alone.

The UN termed it ethnic cleansing and having hallmarks of genocide, creating global pressure on the Southeast Asian country.

A Rohingya family's identity being verified by authorities in Myanmar.

It added that family members who "are in line with the rules" were issued with national verification cards (NVCs) upon entering Myanmar.

In an effort to address the crisis, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal in November to repatriate the Rohingya over the course of two years, beginning in January.

Win Myat Aye, Myanmar's social welfare minister, made the comments in Dhaka late on Thursday after visiting one of the Bangladesh camps struggling to provide for some of the one million to have fled the country. Bangladesh has given Myanmar a list of 8,000 refugees to begin the process. Again, Myanmar officials blamed Bangladesh for that, saying the forms were not properly filled up.

When things regarding repatriation keep moving, Myanmar's behaviour is suspicious, he said.

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