Myanmar announces first Rohingya repatriation

Myanmar announces first Rohingya repatriation

Myanmar announces first Rohingya repatriation

A newly arrived Rohingya refugee mother feeds her daughter at a transit camp in Nayaprar refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

Myanmar on Saturday repatriated the first Rohingya family from almost 700,000 refugees who have fled to Bangladesh, after months of fraught talks with Dhaka and amid the United Nations' warnings that the country is not ready for their return.

Fleeing refugees from the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority have reported killings, rape and arson on a large scale in Myanmar where the U.S. and United Nations have described a military operation as ethnic cleansing.

The stateless Muslim minority has been massing in squalid Bangladesh camps since the Myanmar army launched a ruthless crackdown on the community in northern Rakhine state last August.

"The five members of a family came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state this morning", according to the governments Information Committee.

The family returned following after months of talks with Dhaka and amid warning from the United Nations that the country is not ready for the return of refugees yet.

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Rohingya Muslims have always been treated as outsiders in Myanmar, even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Myanmar authorities never use the word "Rohingya", which they deny is an official ethnicity.

It said that the family had been sent to stay "temporarily" with relatives in Maungdaw town after "finishing the repatriation process". The card has been widely rejected by Rohingya community leaders, who say they treat life-long residents like new immigrants.

In the later half of 2016, the Myanmar military forces and extremist Buddhists started a major crackdown on the Rohingya Muslims in the country's western area.

Myanmar officials could not be reached for further details and the post did not say whether any more returns were expected soon.

Rahim said the group became angry when Win Myat Aye said the Rohingya refugees must accept national verification cards to be provided by Myanmar in which they state they are migrants from Bangladesh.

Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) blasted the repatriation announcement as "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine state".

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UNHCR said it "considers that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable".

The agreement, signed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque, established a framework of cooperation between UNHCR and Bangladesh on the safe, voluntary, and dignified returns of refugees in line with global standards.

Myanmar authorities have since bulldozed over numerous charred villages, raising alarm from rights groups who say they are erasing evidence of atrocities and obscuring the Rohingya's ties to the country.

Hundreds of Rohingya were reportedly killed in the recent violence, and many houses and villages burned to the ground.

Myanmar authorities have since bulldozed over numerous charred villages, raising alarm from rights groups who say they are erasing evidence of atrocities and obscuring the Rohingya's ties to the country.

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