Monday, 21 May, 2018

First Rohingya family returns to Myanmar after conflicts

UN blacklists Myanmar military for sexual violence Myanmar says it has repatriated first Rohingya family despite UN warnings
Sammy Stanley | 15 April, 2018, 18:00

Myanmar's government announced that it has repatriated the first family of Rohingya refugees, among 700,000 others who fled to Bangladesh escaping from a brutal crackdown.

An estimated 647,000 Rohingya - about half of Burma's entire population of Rohingya, a stateless Muslim ethnic minority group - have left their homes in northern Rakhine state since violence erupted in August and crossed into Bangladesh, settling in vast and squalid refugee camps.

Burma has denied almost all allegations, saying it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

In an effort to address the crisis, Bangladesh and Burma signed a deal in November to repatriate the Rohingya over the course of two years, beginning in January.

A new United Nations report puts Myanmar's armed forces on a United Nations blacklist for carrying out rapes and other acts of sexual violence.

According to a Myanmar government statement posted late Saturday, one family of refugees became the first to be processed in newly built reception centres earlier in the day.

Images accompanying the social media post on Saturday showed five individuals receiving identification cards - which do not grant citizenship - from uniformed Myanmar officials, and getting medical help and living provisions from health and social workers.

It added that the family members who "are in line with the rules" were issued the National Verification Cards (NVCs) upon entering Burma.

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The Rohingya are reviled by many in the Buddhist-majority country, where they are branded as illegal "Bengali" immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their long roots in Rakhine state.

The group described the announcement a "fake event", aimed at luring Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar to live in camps.

A Rohingya community leader in the camp also confirmed the family's return.

She cited a continued lack of access to health services, concerns among the Rohingya about protection and continued displacements.

According to the Rohingya Blogger, however, the individuals in the photos are the family members of the administrator of Taung Pyo Latya, the designated entry point for returning refugees.

"Before proceeding with the repatriation of Rohingya, the Myanmar government must recognize and guarantee all their fundamental human rights", he told AFP.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said this week that "conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable".

Doctors Without Borders says the violence claimed at least 6,700 Rohingya lives in the first month alone.

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