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Should Rohingya Be Repatriated?

Vessel with 90 Rohingya Muslims on board

Citing concerns of safety and the possible risk of forced returns, Bangladesh says it needs more time to prepare for the monumental logistics of repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

The number of Rohingya refugees pouring into Bangladesh from Myanmar has soared to over 800,000 as the two neighboring countries try to smooth a repatriation agreement that was set to take effect on January 23. The Bangladeshi government’s decision to delay the plan to return many of the Rohingya to Myanmar comes as an interim sigh of relief amid heightened apprehension for the UN refugee agency, human rights groups, aid agencies and the Rohingya themselves.

Citing concerns of safety and the possible risk of forced returns, Bangladesh says it needs more time to prepare for the monumental logistics of repatriation. While the two nations bicker over when to start implementing the deal, there is no talk about revising its terms, which in itself would facilitate the premature repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. Based on a design that seemed guaranteed to fail, the agreement as it stands only serves to ease Bangladesh’s burden and enable Myanmar to save face as international actors cry foul over its practice of ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, the Rohingya remain stateless and persecuted, while the international community has done little other than calling attention to their plight.

According to the bilateral agreement, Myanmar has agreed to accept up to 1,500 Rohingya each week in an attempt to bring back more than 650,000 people who fled to Bangladesh following a wave of violence in August 2016. The agreement does not include refugees who left Myanmar prior to 2016, thus turning away several previous waves of refugees. Despite Myanmar’s stated willingness to start resettling the returning the Rohingya, the situation on the ground paints a different picture. The repatriation talks between the two countries came even as the Rohingya continued to stream into Bangladesh on a daily basis, although in fewer numbers than in the final months of 2016.

Full story: fairobserver.com

By Swathi Gokulan
Fair observer

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