First Rohingya family repatriated in Myanmar despite United Nations concerns

  • First Rohingya family repatriated in Myanmar despite United Nations concerns

First Rohingya family repatriated in Myanmar despite United Nations concerns

The Myanmar government announced late on Saturday that a family of refugees had become the first to be processed in newly built repatriation centres earlier that day.

A Facebook post on the official page of Burma's Information Committee appears to show the family getting health checks and receiving packages of rice, mosquito netting and blankets.

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. The Rohingya family had been living in a camp erected on a patch there [between the two countries]. However, the Myanmar government rejects the allegations of ethnic cleansing and stated the military only engaged in a justified campaign against Rohingya militants in Rakhine state.

The move comes despite warnings from the United Nations and other rights groups that a mass repatriation of Rohingya would be premature, as Myanmar has yet to address the systematic legal discrimination and persecution the minority has faced for decades.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed a repatriation plan in January but its start has been repeatedly delayed as both sides blame the other for lack of preparation.

Many have refused to take part in repatriation until they receive guarantees about their rights and citizenship.

The United Nations has warned that a mass repatriation of Rohingya would be premature.

He said: "The return of this Rohingya family can not be considered as repatriation in any way".

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

Myanmar must address "critical issues of freedom of movement, social cohesion, livelihoods, and access to services", she added.

That includes "unfettered, independent monitoring" of returnees, restoration of lost homes and properties among others. As of April 1, only 600 individuals have been verified by Myanmar, according to HRW.

Rohingya and rights groups have accused the army of committing crimes against humanity and genocide, including murder, rape, arson and looting - unleashed in response to Rohingya armed attacks on security forces.

More than 670,000 Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar since last August, joining an estimated 200,000 Rohingya who have sought shelter in Bangladesh, arriving in waves over the past decades.

The Rohingya exodus has created a humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh, a small, poor country that is one of the most densely populated in the world.

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