Thursday 19 September 2019

Repatriation plan halted as Rohingya beg to stay in Bangladesh

Refugees are still unwilling to return to Burma.

Rohingya refugees shout slogans against repatriation (Dar Yasin/AP)
Rohingya refugees shout slogans against repatriation (Dar Yasin/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Plans to begin repatriating more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Burma have been scrapped after officials in Bangladesh failed to find any who wanted to go.

Refugee Commissioner Abul Kalam said on Thursday that the refugees “are not willing to go back now”.

He added that officials “can’t force them to go” but will continue to try to “motivate them so it happens”.

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Rohingya refugee Sitara Begum with her son Mohammed Abbas (Dar Yasin/AP)

The announcement came after about 1,000 Rohingya demonstrated against returning to Burma, from where hundreds of thousands fled army-led violence last year.

A UN-brokered deal between Burma and Bangladesh says refugees can only be repatriated voluntarily.

UN officials and human-rights groups cautioned against beginning the process before the refugees’ safety had been assured.

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