Friday, November 9, 2018

Rohingya refugees 'terrified' at prospect of being forced to return to Myanmar

‘If they forcefully deport us, we will be in the same situation that was there before. The violence, the killing, and the persecution [will start] again’.
Plans to begin the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh back to Myanmar next week are premature and have left the community in the world’s largest refugee camp “terrified”, according to aid groups.
Despite previous commitments that the return of Rohingya refugees would be on a safe, dignified and voluntary basis, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh announced a deal to begin with more than 2,000 repatriations from the Cox’s Bazar camps on 15 November.
The UN has said conditions in Rakhine state, from which some 700,000 Rohingya fled in a mass exodus starting last year, “are not yet conducive for returns”.
And there are now serious concerns over how the list of initial returnees has been drawn up, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirming that it has not been included in the process by the Bangladesh government.
Official forms for counting Rohingya families have been given to refugees over the past few weeks. Refugees told The Independent that they feared the forms related to repatriation, but were ordered to fill them out anyway. No one The Independent spoke to was willing to volunteer to return to Myanmar under current conditions.
Now 42 international aid agencies have signed a joint letter urging Bangladesh and Myanmar to reconsider the repatriation plan.It says the involuntary return of refugees would be a “violation of the fundamental principle of non-refoulement” – the internationally agreed principle that refugees cannot be returned to countries where they justifiably fear persecution.
“They are terrified about what will happen to them if they are returned to Myanmar now, and distressed by the lack of information they have received,” the letter reads.

Bangladesh has not released the list of names of the first 2,300 returnees, making it impossible to verify whether they are indeed being sent back on a voluntary basis.
The lack of official information has led to the widespread fear among many in the sprawling Cox’s Bazar camps that they could be “on the list”.One 60-year-old man named Dil Mohammad tried to kill himself this week after the false rumour spread that he was being sent back, his wife told The Telegraph.

And multiple refugees told The Independent last month that if they were included on any list for repatriation to Myanmar, they would do all they could do avoid going.
Nurul Amin, a 37-year-old father of seven, said: “I saw the violence myself in Myanmar, I have seen people with their throats slit, and my house was partially destroyed by a grenade launcher [fired by the Myanmar army].
“We are thankful to this country’s people, the Bangladeshi people, to give us the shelter, we are grateful to them.

“But I am worried that they [the camp authorities] have taken all this information, that it might be a preparation for deportation.

No comments:

Post a Comment