Interviews find no Rohingya willing to go back 

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 23:54, Aug 20,2019


The government by Tuesday informed 3,399 prospective Rohingya returnees about the readiness of Bangladesh, Myanmar and the UNHCR authorities for facilitating their return to Rakhine State of Myanmar subject to their voluntariness for the return.   

The UNHCR and the government officials have also started assessing their voluntariness with interviewing 21 families having about 100 persons on Tuesday, officials said.

None of the 21 families has, however, agreed to return, according to our correspondent in Cox’s Bazar.

Several Rohingya people who faced the interview with the UNHCR and the government team said that they would not return to Myanmar until and unless the question of their citizenship ‘is solved.’

‘There are qualitative changes in the attitude of the prospective Rohingya returnees this time. They had chanted slogans during the first return attempt in November last year. This time they are coming to the interview no matter what they would say – yes or no,’ refugee relief and repatriation commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam told New Age on Tuesday evening. 

‘The government would not send anyone forcibly,’ he said.

The government and the UNHCR completed all preparations, including constituting two medical teams for checking health of the prospective returnees, keeping five buses ready to carry them to the transit camps and beefing up security across the Rohingya camps.

Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that his country was expecting that the displaced people of Myanmar would return in a safe, speedy and sustainable manner to their place of origin in Rakhine State.

He said this after a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday instructed all relevant authorities to facilitate return of the willing Rohingya people in a sustainable away, government officials said.

She also instructed the authorities concerned to identify the persons who launched a campaign inside Rohingya camps to thwart the repatriation process.

A section of Myanmar nationals have been on a campaign inside Rohingya camps 23, 26 and 27, discouraging prospective returnees to go to Rakhine. 

Voluntariness of some 3,399 persons belonging to 1,038 Rohingya families is being assessed as to if they wanted to return to Rakhine, according to RRRC officials.

The UNHCR ‘is mandated for assessing voluntariness of the returnees’ according to a memorandum of understanding signed between the Bangladesh government and the UNHCR.

The first attempt at repatriation had failed on 15 November 2018 as none of the selected Rohingya people showed their willingness for return.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.

The latest Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees from that country in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

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