Bangladesh is planning to repatriate around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled from violence in Myanmar since last year. The Bangladeshi authorities have said that the repatriation, reportedly starting on today, will be voluntary but some of the refugees who are scheduled to be deported have gone into hiding fearing that they will be forced to return.
Refugees, Repatriation and Rehabilitation Commissioner Abul Kalam said on Wednesday that 30 refugee families would be handed over on Thursday at the Ghumdhum border point near Cox’s Bazar, where refugees have been living in crammed camps. But by late Wednesday, confusion grew over whether it would start.
The UN authorities and other human rights groups have shown their disapproval of the repatriation plan of the Bangladesh government. Kalam said that they discussed the situation with the UN’s refugee agency, which gave a report after discussion with the refugees who are on the list. The UN does not want the government to send the refugees back under current circumstances.
Myanmar has insisted they are ready for the return of the Rohingyas. Officials have stated that refugees from Cox’s Bazar will be processed in one of the two centres built by Bangladesh and then transported back to Myanmar either by boat or on land to Hla Po Khaung transition camp, in Rakhine state.
Out of the initial 2,260 people being sent back to Myanmar, 150 Rohingyas will be returned today. Bangladesh has handed over a list of 24,342 Rohingya Refugees to Myanmar in the last few days. Out of which, Myanmar has verified 5,000 refugees. India is keeping a close watch on the repatriation as there has been a rising demand of deportation of around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims who have settled in India. They are considered illegal immigrants in India. The Indian government has said that Rohingyas are a threat to the national security and are prone to radicalisation and it is willing to deport them.
Rohingya Muslims had indulged in brutal killings of Hindus in Myanmar.