Allow Rohingyas to visit Rakhine before repatriation: UNHCR to Myanmar

The UNHCR has stressed Rohingyas' "go-and-see visits" to Rakhine State before repatriation from Cox’s Bazar to help them make an independent choice.

Published : 23 Nov 2018, 09:29 AM
Updated : 23 Nov 2018, 09:29 AM

The UN refugee agency in a statement said this approach has been underscored by its high commissioner on Nov 11 as a way to demonstrate that progress has been made in Myanmar.

"This would enable the refugees themselves to make an independent assessment of conditions in Rakhine State and relay this information to other refugees in Bangladesh.

“UNHCR is prepared to support such visits and continues to work with all

stakeholders to find a sustainable solution that will afford the refugees, and all communities in Rakhine State, a decent future.”

Bangladesh had to abandon the beginning of the Rohingyas return on Nov 15 after they expressed their unwillingness to go back.

Dhaka has been maintaining voluntary repatriation since the signing of the deal with Myanmar last year following a massive exodus from the Rakhine state in late August.

Over 700,000 Rohingyas fled ethnic cleansing and took shelter in Cox’s Bazar since then.

The UNHCR said since this crisis began in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Bangladesh has engaged “constructively” with the government of Myanmar and the international community in order for Rohingya refugees to be able to voluntarily return to their places of origin or choice in Myanmar in conditions that are safe, dignified and sustainable.

“The responsibility for creating conditions conducive for voluntary return lies with Myanmar,” it said.

UNHCR appeals to Myanmar to exert all efforts to create these conditions and address the root causes of the refugees’ displacement, in line with the recommendations of the Kofi-Annan led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

"While UNHCR welcomes Myanmar’s commitment to voluntary return and

the steps taken to receive potential returnees, it will be important for Myanmar to demonstrate concrete progress toward ensuring freedom of movement, access to services, documentation and livelihood opportunities,” UNHCR said.

"These steps would be essential to help build refugees’ confidence that the

conditions in Myanmar have sufficiently changed to allow them to contemplate their return.”

Further, it is essential that UNHCR and UNDP be granted effective access

to refugees’ places of origin and potential areas of return, in line with the tripartite MOU signed by UNHCR, UNDP and Myanmar in June 2018.

In this connection, UNHCR calls for international support for the government of Myanmar’s efforts to create conditions that are conducive to refugees’ voluntary return in safety and dignity and which will allow for their durable reintegration.

These efforts should be part of a "coordinated and comprehensive" plan of support that promotes social cohesion between all communities and lays the foundation for the longer-term sustainable development of Rakhine State.