Conditions for Rohingya to return to Myanmar are not conducive: United Nations

Reuters
Myanmar (Burma) Published: Nov 01, 2018, 10:39 AM(IST)

File photo of Rohingya refugees. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Tuesday (October 30) to begin by November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar army crackdown.

The UN refugee agency said on Wednesday (October 31) that conditions in Rakhine state were "not conducive for a safe, dignified and voluntary return" for Rohingya refugees, stressing that such repatriations must be voluntary.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Tuesday (October 30) to begin by November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar army crackdown.

Necessary safeguards are absent in the region, where access is limited amid continuing restrictions for media and other independent observers, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman, Andrej Mahecic said.

"We basically have advised that the returns should not be rushed or premature. We would advise against setting any timetable or any target number for the repatriation. It is very important to understand that the repatriation needs to be a free and voluntary choice of refugees", he said.

He added that UNHCR has completed the second phase of assessment in northern Rakhine state, but its access remains "limited".

Rohingya and other Muslims in the three townships suffer hardship and economic vulnerability due to restrictions on their movement and the prevailing sentiment is "fear and mistrust", he said.

Rohingya are still crossing the border into Bangladesh, with nearly 14,000 arriving this year, according to UNHCR.

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