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13.11.2018 20:58 News >> US Concerned Over 'Premature' Return Of Rohingya

US Concerned Over 'Premature' Return Of Rohingya

Conditions in Myanmar are not conducive for return of Rohingya refugees, say US and UN officials.

The U.S. expressed concern over Myanmar's plan to begin the repatriation process for Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh from violence in the northern Rakhine state, saying that conditions were not conducive for the returns.

The repatriation process was scheduled to start earlier this year, as a part of an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar, but had been continuously delayed.

Myanmar agreed to begin receiving a return of Rohingya starting November 15, and on Sunday said that they were ready to receive the refugees.

More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, according to Amnesty International.

The government of Myanmar released a statement saying that they would receive an initial group of 2,251 at a rate of 150 per day, according to the Associated Press.

In response, the U.S. said the conditions were not yet met for the return of these refugees and the government of Myanmar needs to create conditions that allow for a freedom of movement throughout the country.

"We have engaged both governments at the highest levels to express our serious concerns about premature returns, and to emphasize that, consistent with international practice, returns be informed, voluntary, safe, dignified," said a State Department spokesperson on the condition of anonymity. "Further, returnees to Burma [Myanmar] must have freedom of movement and not be confined to camps."

The U.S. also urged Myanmar to grant humanitarian access and hold those responsible for human rights abuses that are accountable.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights backed a voluntary repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar but said the conditions in the country are not conducive to a safe return.

"I have not seen any evidence of the Government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment where the Rohingya can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed," said Yanghee Lee, the special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, in a statement.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar's army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity. -



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