Government building 1,500 housing units for Rohingya refugees, but only 177 are back

About 500 units have already been completed, 773 are under construction and 250 are awaiting financial coverage. The Indian government will finance 250. Repatriation, which should have started in January 2018, has raised concerns among refugees about their safety following their return to Rakhine.

Naypyidaw (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar will soon finish the construction of more than 1,500 housing units for Rohingya refugees returning from Bangladesh thanks to the support of international agencies, NGOs and the Indian government.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali said that he hopes that the first group of 8,000 refugees will be able to return to northern Rakhine State.

The presence of the United Nations and its partners in northern Rakhine State should boost the confidence of the refugees in the repatriation process, this according to Christine Schraner Burgener, UN special envoy to Myanmar.

The construction of almost 500 units had been completed, Rakhine Chief Minister U Nyi Phyu said last week. He said another 773 shelters are being built, while 250 shelters are awaiting financial assistance.

“The Indian government will fund the construction of 250 prefabricated houses in Maungdaw township for displaced people,” U Nyi Pu said. Maungdaw was the scene of sectarian violence.

The Indian embassy said it has signed two agreements with Rakhine to facilitate capacity building and economic development in the strife-torn area.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an Arrangement on the Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State last November. Repatriation was supposed to start in January 2018but refugees expressed concerns about their safety after they return to Rakhine.

More than a year after the outbreak of the latest violence, the refugees are still reticent about going home. Maungdaw Deputy district administrator U Ye Htoo noted that only 177 Rohingya Muslims have been resettled, 106 males and 71 females.