Bangladesh Delays Repatriation of Refugees to Myanmar

Bangladesh Delays Repatriation of Refugees to MyanmarBangladesh Delays Repatriation of Refugees to Myanmar

The repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, which was slated to begin on Tuesday, has been delayed amid fears among officials that some refugees would be forced to return home.

Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee and repatriation commissioner, cited delays in compiling and verifying a list of people set to return to Myanmar. “The main thing is that the process has to be voluntary,” said Kalam, adding that the paperwork for returning refugees had not yet been finalized and that transit camps had yet to be built, DW reported.

The decision comes amid reports of rising tensions in several Rohingya refugee camps, where many are opposed to returning to home due to a lack of security guarantees.

It remained unclear when the repatriation plan was now set to begin.

More than 655,000 Muslim Rohingyas have fled their homes in the northern part of Rakhine State since late August, after the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown in response to a series of militant attacks on security forces.

Late last year, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to begin sending people home in “safety, security and dignity”. However, the process has instead proven to be chaotic, with many Rohingya refugees left fearing they could be forced to return to the very same villages they fled in fear just months earlier.

Although hundreds of thousands of refugees are expected to return to Myanmar, many have outright refused to be any part of the agreement.

David Mathieson, a human rights researcher working on Rohingya issues, said it was a “fantasyland, make-believe world that both governments are in” if they expected the repatriation agreement to ahead as announced.

Mathieson noted that Myanmar had just months ago forcefully removed hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, torching their homes and villages in the process. “Now you’re expecting them to come back, as if they’re in a conga line of joy after what you did to them?”


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