Rohingyas seek safety, citizenship guarantees before repatriation process

Rohingya want life guarantees before repatriation from Bangladesh

Rohingya militants on Saturday hit out at a repatriation plan for refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar set to begin next week, saying it aims to trap the Muslim minority in long-term camps while their ancestral lands are seized.

Rohingya community leader Sirajul Mostafa, who lives in Bangladesh's Kutupalong refugee camp, told Efe news that his community was demanding the "complete" implementation of the recommendations made by an advisory commission on Rakhine state led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan before being repatriated.

A statement issued on Thursday by almost two dozen Rohingya organisations around the world demanded security guarantees for the refugees and their property before they return.

United Nations special rapporteur Yanghee Lee is currently visiting the camps in southeastern Bangladesh where around a million of the Muslim minority are now living. We want fundamental rights and citizenship.

Diplomats stationed in Dhaka on Sunday laid emphasis on "safe, voluntary and dignified" return of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar to make their return sustainable, reports UNB.

He also said the Rohingya repatriation process will not be hampered due to the upcoming national election.

But many Rohingya living in the crowded, unsanitary camps have said they do not want to return to Rakhine after fleeing atrocities including murder, rape and arson attacks on their homes.

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The return of Rohingyas is scheduled to begin tomorrow, but some of the major tasks including finalisation of the list of families and setting up of repatriation camps remain incomplete.

The petition, which has still to be finalised, demanded the Myanmar government publicly announce it is giving Rohingya long-denied citizenship and inclusion on a list of the country's recognised ethnic groups.

Win Myat Aye, the minister of social welfare, relief and resettlement, said: "These refugees can be sent on January 23 because they are already verified to come back". They want the Myanmar military is held accountable for alleged killings and looting and rape. At the camps, the UN Refugee Agency will assess if the refugees are willing to return, Kalam said.

The latest followed deadly co-ordinated attacks by ARSA in late August which sparked an army crackdown that sent 655,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.

More than 100 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since Wednesday and scores more were waiting to cross the Naf river that forms the border, newly arrived refugees in Bangladesh told Reuters.

Emphasising on development of Rakhine, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat said Rohingyas are not willing to go back to their homeland and that is the key challenge. "Any repatriation of Rohingyas back to Myanmar needs to be voluntary", said spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general Stephane Dujarric in a regular briefing at the United Nations headquarters.

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