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Bangladesh Agrees With Myanmar for UNHCR to Assist Rohingya’s Return
Bangladesh Agrees With Myanmar for UNHCR to Assist Rohingya’s Return

Bangladesh Agrees With Myanmar for UNHCR to Assist Rohingya’s Return

Bangladesh Agrees With Myanmar for UNHCR to Assist Rohingya’s Return

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to take help from the UN refugee agency to safely repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who had fled violence in Myanmar, Bangladesh said on Saturday.
More than 600,000 Rohingya sought sanctuary in Bangladesh after the military in mostly Buddhist Myanmar launched a brutal counter-insurgency operation in their villages across the northern parts of Rakhine State, Reuters reported.
Faced with a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, the two governments signed a pact on Thursday agreeing that the return of the Rohingya to Myanmar should start within two months.
Uncertainty over whether the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would have a role had prompted rights groups to insist that outside monitors were needed to safeguard the Rohingya’s return.
Addressing a news conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali gave assurances that the UNHCR would play some part.
“Both countries agreed to take help from the UNHCR in the Rohingya repatriation process,” Ali said. “Myanmar will take its assistance as per their requirement.”
While the violence in Rakhine has mostly ceased, Rohingya have continued to stream out of Myanmar, saying they have largely lost access to sources of livelihood such as their farms, fisheries and markets. Thousands of Rohingya, most of them old people, women and children, remain stranded on beaches near the border, waiting for a boat to take them to Bangladesh.
Myanmar officials have said returnees will be moved to camps only temporarily while so-called “model villages” are constructed near their former homes.
Win Myat Aye, the minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement who heads a Myanmar government panel on rehabilitation in Rakhine, said India and China had offered to provide “modular houses” for returnees.
The UN and the United States have described the Myanmar military’s actions as “ethnic cleansing”, and rights groups have accused the security forces of committing atrocities, including mass rape, arson and killings.
The United States also warned it could impose sanctions on individuals responsible for alleged abuses.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis heads to Myanmar and Bangladesh with the international community excoriating Myanmar’s crackdown on Rohingya Muslims as “ethnic cleansing” but his own church resisting the label and defending Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the only hope for democracy, AP reported.
Francis will thus be walking a fraught diplomatic tightrope during the Nov. 27-Dec. 2 visit, which will include separate meetings with Suu Kyi, the powerful head of Myanmar’s military as well as a small group of Rohingya once Francis arrives in neighboring Bangladesh.
Francis isn’t known for his deference to protocol and he tends to call a spade a spade. But he has already been urged by the Catholic Church in Myanmar and his hand-picked cardinal, Charles Bo, to refrain from even using the term “Rohingya,” which is rejected by most in Myanmar.
“If he is prophetic, he puts Christians at risk,” said Rev. Thomas Reese. “If he is silent about the persecution of the Rohingya, he loses moral credibility.”

 

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