Myanmar still not safe for Rohingya Muslims: UN refugee agency

Geneva: More time is needed to prepare the return of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh to western Rakhine state in Myanmar said U.N. refugee chief. According to Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, issues surrounding Rohingya citizenship and safety needed to be addressed before their repatriation. Grandi said in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday “In order for the repatriation to be right, sustainable, actually viable, you need to really … address a number of issues”. He said issues like citizenship, the rights of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, meaning freedom of movement, access to services, to livelihoods need to be addressed before sending them to Myanmar.

Amid concerns that the refugees could be coerced into leaving, Bangladesh postponed the gradual repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, which was slated to begin Tuesday.

An agreement was finalised between Bangladesh and Myanmar last week to facilitate the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees over the next two years. However, the refugees refuse to go back unless their safety can be guaranteed and their demands for citizenship and inclusion in a list of recognized ethnic minorities are met.

According to United Nations around 700000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine for Bangladesh since violence intensified last August.