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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ensure our rights before repatriation: Rohingyas

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Rohingyas, now living in Bangladesh, want to see certain positive developments including right to citizenship before returning to their homeland- Myanmar. "A majority of Rohingyas those interviewed indicated that before considering returning to Myanmar they would need to see some positive developments, in particular in relation to citizenship, security, and the possibility for them to enjoy their basic rights," says the UNHCR on Saturday.

Some Rohingyas have also asked for reassurances about UNHCR's involvement in the process, being familiar with UNHCR's role and assistance in past efforts to assist refugees to return to Myanmar. Some 655,000 people have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017, reports UNB.

There were more than 2,200 new arrivals between December 1 and 26 last year, a significant decrease in arrival trends compared to November, which saw the arrival of over 12,700 refugees. In December, the majority of arrivals (over1,900) arrived through the Mogpara/ Sabrang border point, on the southernmost tip of Bangladesh.

UNHCR said it is working with the Bangladesh government and partners to ensure protection and assistance for refugees. UNHCR's support also aimed at ensuring that local host communities  affected by the unprecedented influx are considered and assisted.

The agency also continues to work to develop areas in the existing settlements, Kutupalong and Nayapara, to provide basic infrastructure and services. On November 23, 2017, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a bilateral 'arrangement' on the return of refugees to Myanmar.

A Joint Working Group (JWG) consisting of government representatives from Myanmar and Bangladesh was subsequently formed on December 19. The JWG is tasked to develop a specific instrument on the physical arrangement for the repatriation of returnees.

UNHCR continues to offer its technical support to both Governments to establish a voluntary repatriation framework in line with international standards, with a view to ensuring that any returns occur in conditions of voluntariness and safety - and in a sustainable manner.

The first meeting of the JWG is planned to take place on Monday in Myanmar capital. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque will lead the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting, an official told UNB. A 14-member Bangladesh is scheduled to leave for Myanmar on Sunday afternoon. UNHCR has been sampling refugees' views on return.

-AA News Desk

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