‘Time not ripe for Rohingya repatriation’

November 11, 2018

TEHRAN _ Bangladesh and Myanmar should shelve plans of repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State as they face a “high risk of persecution”, a top United Nations' human rights investigator has warned.

More than 900,000 Rohingya refugees are currently living in Bangladesh under impoverished conditions after being thrown out of their country following a brutal military crackdown in August 2017.

On October 30, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation process in mid-November but the UN refugee agency said conditions in Rakhine State were “not yet conducive for returns”.

“I urge the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to halt these rushed plans for repatriation,” Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said on Tuesday, calling on Myanmar to grant the Rohingya their right to citizenship, freedom of movement and access to public services.

Lee said Myanmar “failed to provide guarantees they [the Rohingya] would not suffer the same persecution and horrific violence all over again”, and said she had received credible information from the refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, that "they are in deep fear of their names being on the list to be repatriated, causing distress and anguish".

Last month, Myanmar officials said they verified 5,000 Rohingya refugees so far, with the "first batch" of 2,000 to be repatriated in November. The UN condemned the repatriation deal, confirming it had not been consulted on the plan.

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