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13 November, 2018 08:04:38 AM

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Rohingyas prodded to go back home

Deepak Acharjee, from Balukhali Rohingya camp at Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar
Rohingyas prodded to go back home
A man stands next to the dummy of a prefabricated house, which like thousand others, is built for the evicted Rohingyas from their ancestral homesteads in Rakhaine state of Myanmar yesterday. Independent Photo

The local administration and the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) are raising awareness among the 485 Rohingya families listed as being forcibly displaced from Myanmar about returning to their homeland. The authorities concerned are telling the refugees about the makeshift transit camps built by Myanmar at Maungdaw so that they can go back without fear.

During a visited to Balukhali Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar yesterday, this correspondent saw that the authorities building a makeshift house and explaining to the refugees that similar shelters were built by the Myanmar government across the border.

The authorities also trained the Rohingyas on how to use the house.

The camp authorities said that a number of Rohingyas had agreed to go back to Myanmar and their names were included in the repatriation list.

Omar Faroque, a head Majhi (Rohingya leader) at Jamtoli camp-15 of Balukhali area, told The Independnet that he wanted to return to his homeland as soon as possible because he did not want to live as a ‘refugee’ in Bangladesh. “I will do work on my own land back home,” he added.

Another head Majhi, Rahim, said he had some relatives at Lafung village in Myanmar. They had assured the refugee across the border of his safety as the Myanmarese authorities had stopped the crackdown on the Rohingya population.

Talking to The Independent, RRRC commissioner Abul Kalam Azad said they were ready to send back 2,260 Rohingyas to Myanmar from November 15. “We have already verified the listed Rohingyas from the registered 9.40 lakh refugees staying at different camps in Cox’s Bazaar,” he said.

As part of the Rohingya repatriation process, Myanmar has agreed to take back 150 Rohingyas from Bangladesh every day.

On November 23, 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh had signed an agreement titled “Arrangement on Return of displaced Persons from Rakhine state” during the visit of the Bangladesh foreign minister to Myanmar. More than 655,000 Rohingyas have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25 last year.

The Rohingya people in the camps said Bangladesh Army personnel have arranged volunteers to guard the camps. “Sometimes, Armymen patrol at night to prevent any untoward incident in the camps,” a refugee said.

Meanwhile, seeking a voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, the US asserted that Dhaka must ensure that the returnees have freedom of movement and are not confined to camps.

Dhaka and Naypyidaw agreed last month to begin by mid-November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar army crackdown. Under the agreement, Myanmar will take back 2,000 Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh in the first batch, which will be followed by a second batch.

“We have engaged both governments at the highest levels to express our serious concerns about premature returns, and to emphasize that, consistent with international practice, returns be informed, voluntary, safe, and dignified. Further, returnees to Burma must have freedom of movement and not be confined to camps,” the US State Department said in a statement on Sunday.

However, the State Department also said it agree with the assessment of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns of the Rohingyas. “This is because full access to Burma is needed to understand the conditions in areas of return and to allow refugees and internally displaced persons to make an informed choice about returning to Burma,” it said.

Over 720,000 of Myanmar’s stateless Rohingya fled in August last year, taking shelter in crowded camps in Bangladesh and bringing with them harrowing tales of rape, murder and arson in the brutal military crackdown.

Urging Myanmar to play a constructive role in resolving the Rohingya issue, the US said the country should address the root causes of the crisis in the Rakhine state and provide access to a transparent and efficient citizenship verification process, freedom of movement and access to livelihoods to the minority Muslims.

KK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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