“It will not happen tomorrow because nobody wants to go,” announced Wednesday, a source close to the dossier, which was expressed under the seal of anonymity. Bangladesh and Burma had agreed in late October on the principle of the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who have crossed the border since August of 2017, in order to escape the violence and to the repression of the burmese army in the north-west of the country.
A first group of 2200 refugees from the muslim minority regarded as stateless by the burmese authorities should take as early as Thursday, the executive of Rakhine State, even if the High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), the UN deems that the conditions of their return are not met. The head of bangladesh in charge of overseeing the operation, Abul Kalam, has assured Thursday that his country would not compel any Rohingya to return to Burma. “We want to be certain that their return will be voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable”, he said.
A spokesperson for the High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) has indicated that the UN agency had begun interviewing families of refugees likely to return. According to a source, humanitarian, none of them has expressed the will. Dozens of families have fled the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar this week for fear of being deported to Burma, where hundreds of villages have been burned down by the burmese army. The investigators mandated by the UN have denounced a “genocidal intent” and an ethnic cleansing. Some Rohingya, unable to leave, would have even tried to put an end to their days.
“Several cases have been highlighted in the national press. We have not seen in our patients, but it is completely possible. All the ways to escape the repatriation is possible,” said Ely Sok, head of mission of Doctors without Borders (MSF) in Bangladesh. It is also concerned about the impact this decision will have on their mental health: “The fact of exposing these people in mental distress at this situation is going to exacerbate their symptoms.”
A system segregational still present
according To the UNHCR, this initiative would be premature, the current conditions are not favorable for a return. As explained Morgane Arrows, in charge of coordinating Myanmar in Amnesty, based on satellite imagery, and their homes in Burma have been burnt, razed, and have become militarised areas. “The refugees will then be sent to camps that resemble those created prior to the crisis, which brings us back to the same starting point. They still have not obtained the citizenship of burma, the military has not gone before courts. They are even in charge of the security of the country”, she said in Figaro .
The returnees will pass through transit centres and will be sent to a camp where they will be housed and fed, reported Reuters. Morgane Arrows makes clear that there are only two reception centres and one transit centre, visited by journalists last October. “It was a real transaction of communication”, stresses the responsible.
A village of the Rohingya burnt down in Rakhine State, Myanmar. POOL New/REUTERS
according To the person in charge, groups of buddhist nationalists continue to spread “hate speech” and local governments would refuse to accompany them.
“The account is not there”
In a press release issued Monday, the UNHCR had explained that the returns should only take place if they wish, while having the necessary knowledge and reliable conditions” in Myanmar. To preserve the free will of the Rohingya, the UNHCR proposed to allow them to “visit their places of origin in the State of Rakhine or other places where they may wish to return to it.”
“The better for them to return to their land, but the account is not there. It would be necessary to remove the land management to the military,” says Morgane Arrows. Initially, Bangladesh had wanted to move a part of the Rohingya on an island in the south of the country. But Bhasan Char is an island that is submersible, that is to say routinely flooded.
Cannot guarantee the safety of these refugees, the High Commissioner for human rights of the united nations called on Tuesday to halt the repatriation in these conditions: “forcibly Evict, or forcibly returning refugees and asylum seekers in their countries of origin would constitute a flagrant violation of the fundamental legal principle of non-refoulement.” But according to the british newspaper The Guardian , the interruption of such a process seems inconceivable, Bangladesh is preparing for elections in December and Myanmar is putting pressure on the part of China.