Myanmar has not taken a single Rohingya back home till date although the crisis enters the fourth year within a couple of days amid “lack of conducive conditions” in Rakhine required for a safe and sustainable return of Rohingyas, officials said.
“Myanmar is yet to do anything concrete till date for the repatriation of Rohingyas,” an official told UNB mentioning that the humanitarian disaster created by Myanmar must not be the sole responsibility of Bangladesh in the world to shoulder it.
In August 2017, the military launched a campaign of mass atrocities against the Rohingya that forced over 740,000 to flee Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The 600,000 Rohingyas who remain in Rakhine State are essentially confined to camps and villages, said the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
They are there without citizenship or the ability to vote this November.
Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will be a candidate in this November’s general election.
Officials said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and Myanmar’s internal issues further delayed talks on Rohingya repatriation.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said until the international community “exerts more pressure” on Myanmar, including by putting trade and investment moratorium, the Rohingya crisis will not be resolved.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called for renewed support and solutions for displaced and stateless Rohingya communities both within and outside of Myanmar today.
“Three years on from the latest exodus of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar and sought sanctuary in Bangladesh from August 2017 onwards, challenges persist and continue to evolve,” said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has added additional complexities to the crisis.
“The international community must not only maintain support for refugees and their host communities, but adapt to critical needs and expand the search for solutions,” Mahecic said.
Rohingya communities estimate that up to three-quarters of the Rohingya people are today living outside of Myanmar.
UNHCR and the government of Bangladesh have individually registered over 860,000 Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps.
The UN says Bangladesh has demonstrated a profound humanitarian commitment to Rohingya refugees and ensured their protection and extended lifesaving humanitarian support, and now hosts nine out of ten Rohingya refugees registered in the Asia-Pacific region.
This generosity must be acknowledged through continued investment in both Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities, said the UN agency.
Ultimately, the UN Spokesperson said, the solution to the plight of the Rohingya lies in Myanmar, and in comprehensively implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state, to which the government of Myanmar has committed.
Creating conditions that are conducive to the Rohingya people’s safe and sustainable return will require whole of society engagement, resuming and enhancing the dialogue between the Myanmar authorities and Rohingya refugees, as well as other measures that help inspire trust, the UNHCR said.
Bangladesh wants a better life for Rohingyas but says it cannot do beyond its capacity and appealed to the global leadership to take Rohingyas back.
Bangladesh says those countries (which give Bangladesh suggestions) are most welcome if they want to take back Rohingyas who are given shelter in Bangladesh.
Talking to UNB on Sunday, Rohingya leader Abdur Rahim said no decision has been taken yet on how they will observe the day – 25 August - due to coronavirus outbreak.
Thousands of Rohingyas marked the second anniversary of their exodus into Bangladesh by rallying and praying last year. They demanded Myanmar grant them citizenship and other rights before they agree to return.
On 29 July last year, Bangladesh handed a fresh list of 25,000 Rohingyas from around 6,000 families to Myanmar for verification before their repatriation to Rakhine State.
With the latest list, Bangladesh has so far handed the names of around 55,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities and around 8,000 of them have been verified.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered the country since 25 August, 2017. Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on 23 November, 2017.
On 16 January, 2018 Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
The “Physical Arrangement” stipulated that the repatriation would be completed preferably within two years from the start.
Attempts to send back the Rohingyas to their place of origin failed twice.
Despite all the preparations, no Rohingya turned up to accept the “voluntary” repatriation offer, prompting authorities to suspend the process.