10/24/2019, 16.56
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Only 29 Rohingya refugees repatriated

The latest group arrived Tuesday morning in Rakhine State. According to Myanmar officials, only 168 male refugees and 290 females have returned this year. The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh blame each other for the process’s failure.

Naypyidaw (AsiaNews) – In the past week, only 29 Rohingya refugees returned to Myanmar as part of a voluntary repatriation programme. They join 425 who left Bangladesh for Myanmar in almost a year, thanks to the agreement sealed by the two countries.

Although Myanmar and Bangladesh say they are ready to end the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, members of the Muslim ethnic minority still do not seem willing to go home.

The latest group arrived Rakhine State on Tuesday morning after they reported to local authorities. Myanmar officials checked their identities to ensure they were on the list and not members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

In August 2017, the armed Islamist group carried out a series of coordinated attacks against the Myanmar Armed Forces in Maungdaw.

Various camps in the Cox’s Bazar, a border district, host at least one million refugees who fled during different waves of violence.

On 23 November 2017, the two countries agreed on the “safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable” repatriation of displaced persons. The process was set to start on 15 November 2018, but no one was willing to go back, at least not until Myanmar guarantees “security and citizenship rights”.

Last 21 August, a second attempt also failed. Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Kalam Abdul Momen said that Bangladesh and Myanmar were "fully ready" that evening. He blamed Rohingya leaders and NGOs of trying to discourage refugees from going home.

According to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Rohingya are now “a big burden for us”. In fact, many Bangladeshis have begun to show signs of intolerance towards the refugees.

Crimes such as robberies, murders, prostitution and drug trafficking have increased in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and adjacent towns. The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh blame each other for the failure of the process.

Win Myat Aye, Myanmar's Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said today that his government wants Rohingya refugees to return and that it has completed the preparations to receive them.

He urged Bangladesh to immediately return the 400 or more Hindu refugees who have agreed to be repatriated, as this could help kick-start the stalled repatriation programme.

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