Delays in Rohingya repatriation, Naypyitaw accuses Dhaka
No refugee has returned yet to Rakhine. The Burmese authorities: "Ready to respect the agreements". For Bangladesh, the process of compiling and verifying the list of people to be repatriated is incomplete. Refugees question the process and make demands. Tension in the camps.
Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Myanmar accuses the Bangladeshi authorities of delaying the repatriation program for Rohingya refugee, the day after the deadline for the start of the return of the Muslim minority in the war-torn Rakhine state has expired. Following the commitments made on November 23, on January 16 the governments of Naypyitaw and Dhaka agreed the first clear roadmap on the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Myanmar, within two years starting yesterday.
However, the Bangladeshi Commissioner for Refugees and Repatriation Mohammad Abul Kalam announced two days ago that the trial would be delayed, because the process of compiling and verifying the list of people to be repatriated is incomplete. "There are still many things missing, including the creation of transit camps". In reality, Myanmar has set up two temporary shelters on its border for the first 30 thousand refugees, before they return to their "place of origin" or "to the nearest location".
The authorities of Myanmar report that no Rohingya has yet returned to Rakhine, the scene last August of atrocious ethnic violence. "We are ready to receive them and to welcome them according to the agreements", declared Kyaw Tin, Minister of International Cooperation, today. "We read the news that Bangladesh is not ready, but we have not received any official explanation."
The complex registration process has been questioned by refugees, who denounce the fear of returning to the scene of what the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing". At the refugee camp in Palong Khali, near the Naf river that marks the border between the two countries, a group of Rohingya leaders met on the morning of 22nd January with a loudspeaker and a banner that listed a series of requests for their return to Myanmar.
These include security guarantees, the granting of citizenship and the recognition of the group as one of Myanmar's official ethnic minorities. The Rohingyas also demand that the houses, mosques and schools that have been burnt or damaged in the military operation be rebuilt. Bangladesh security forces raided the camp and dispersed a crowd of at least 300 people who had gathered to listen to the leaders. As a demonstration of the tensions related to the issue of repatriation, on the same day one of the Rohingya leaders was killed in one of the other camps in Bangladesh, presumably for having approved the return program.