UNHCR 'not involved' in discussions on Bangladesh-Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya repatriation

Trust deficit in Myanmar hinders Rohingya repatriation

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A Rohingya delegation from Cox’s Bazar on Friday visited the Myanmar state of Rakhine, bordering Bangladesh, as part of an initiative to repatriate Rohingyas living in Bangladesh. But a delegation that visited his home after six years said he was not too excited to return to Myanmar.

The atmosphere there is not conducive for repatriation, he said. Their houses were demolished and army and police barracks, outposts and checkposts were set up there. The government has built a ‘model village’ to accommodate them instead of their original homes in Maungdaw. For these reasons, he could not gain confidence in Myanmar about his return.

So it remains to be seen whether China’s efforts to persuade Bangladesh and Myanmar to come to an agreement to repatriate the Rohingyas will be successful or not. Despite two attempts in 2018 and 2019, the repatriation could not be carried out due to Myanmar’s lack of sincerity and the Rohingya’s objections to the environment in Rakhine.

However, Yao Wen, China’s ambassador to Bangladesh, said at a discussion in the capital on Saturday that China is continuing to work with Bangladesh and Myanmar to start Rohingya repatriation. He hoped that the two countries would be able to reach an agreement to resolve the issue.

Bangladesh is also hopeful about the return of Rohingyas. There is speculation that the repatriation may begin this time, though no date has been fixed yet.

A large number of Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh following the military offensive in August 2017. According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 960,000 Rohingya are currently registered in Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh has given refuge to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds, they have now become a major socio-economic burden. Apart from this, international support for them is also decreasing.

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