Rohingya still fleeing Myanmar despite repatriation deal

November 27, 2017

 

Newly arrived Rohingya refugees wait to receive permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue their way after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, near Teknaf, Bangladesh, November 26, 2017

 

The repatriation agreement applies to Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh who fled Myanmar in two major outbreaks of violence since October 2016

Rohingya are still fleeing into Bangladesh even after an agreement was signed with Myanmar to repatriate hundreds of thousands of the ethnic minority displaced along the border, officials said on Monday.

 

The arrangement struck by the neighbours on Thursday raised the prospect of at least 700,000 Rohingya living in overcrowded camps in southeastern Bangladesh being returned to Myanmar.

 

But at least 3,000 refugees have crossed since then, the United Nations said in its latest report on the crisis, with guards at check-posts along the frontier also reporting a largely uninterrupted flow of newcomers.

 

“The number of arrivals has declined, but it has not stopped,” Commander of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Lt Col SM Ariful Islam said.

 

Ariful said at least 400 refugees had passed by guards under his command along the border with Myanmar since the agreement was signed.

 

An estimated 624,000 Rohingya have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar since August described by UN and US authorities as ethnic cleansing.

 

The repatriation agreement applies to Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh who fled Myanmar in two major outbreaks of violence since October 2016.

 

It does not extend to an estimated 200,000 Rohingya refugees who were living in Bangladesh prior to that date.

 

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has raised concerns over the terms of the arrangement, saying conditions for the safe return of the Rohingya were not yet in place.

 

Bangladesh said at the weekend those returned would initially live in temporary shelters or camps.

 

Rohingya leaders have said they will not return to Myanmar unless they are recognised as citizens with full rights and ensured protection from violence.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya, denying them citizenship and restricting their movement.

 

The UNHCR says any repatriation deal must include “the informed consent of refugees.”

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(c) 2017 Dhaka Tribune

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