Repatriation of first batch of 2,000 Rohingya refugees ready to begin: Bangladesh official

File photo of Rohingya refugees. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Delhi, India Nov 14, 2018, 04.26 PM (IST)

Bangladesh is ready for the repatriation of Rohingyas, an official told news agency Associated Press on Wednesday. According to reports, more than 2,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees will be repatriated from where more than 700,000 have fled violence since last year.

Around 30 refugee families would be transferred on Thursday at the Gundrum border point near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh's repatriation commissioner Abul Kalam said, adding that the UN refugee agency is verifying the repatriation process. 

A UN-brokered deal with Myanmar and Bangladesh identifies all repatriations as voluntary.

A Reuters report on Monday stated that around dozens of Rohingya Muslim families, on a list of refugees set to be repatriated to Myanmar later this week, fled from camps in Bangladesh where they were living. 

"Most of the people on the list have fled to avoid being repatriated," said Abdus Salam, a Rohingya leader at the Jamtoli camp told Reuters, adding most have fled to other neighbouring camps to avoid being detected and forced to return against their will.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in late October to begin repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to escape an army crackdown, even though the United Nations' refugee agency and aid groups say doubts persist about their safety and conditions in Myanmar should they return.

The repatriation of the first batch of 2,000 refugees is set to officially begin on November 15 and officials in Myanmar said on Sunday they were ready to begin receiving refugees this week.

Meanwhile, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has come under the scanner and criticised by world leaders on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this week in Singapore. Suu Kyi has been facing tremendous heat for her handling of the ethnic crisis that led to the Rohingya exodus. 

In another blow to the Myanmar leader, Amnesty International withdrew its most prestigious human rights prize from Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, accusing her of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

(With inputs from agencies

Story highlights

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in late October to begin repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to escape an army crackdown.