Burma repatriates first Rohingya family despite United Nations warnings

REFILE-Boat with 70 Rohingya Muslims leaves Myanmar for Malaysia - sources

Rights groups are expressing scepticism over the announcement that Myanmar has repatriated the first Rohingya family, despite warnings from the UN.

Rohingya and rights groups have accused the army of committing crimes against humanity and genocide, including murder, rape, arson and looting - unleashed in response to Rohingya armed attacks on security forces.

An estimated 687,000 Rohingya - about half of Myanmar's entire population of Rohingya, a stateless Muslim ethnic minority group - have left their homes in northern Rakhine state since violence erupted in August, crossing into Bangladesh and settling in vast and squalid refugee camps.

"The five members of a family. came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state this morning, " the post said.

Since the family did not enter Bangladesh, and used to live in the no man's land, their return can not be considered repatriation, Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam said on Sunday.

Several thousand Rohingya have been living in the zone since August, crammed into a cluster of tents beyond a barbed-wire fence that roughly demarcates the border zone between the two countries.

On Friday, the United Nations refugee agency and Bangladesh finalized a memorandum of understanding that describes the repatriation process as "safe, voluntary and dignified.in line with worldwide standards".

About Monday, " Bangladesh's house minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, said Myanmar's claim that your family have been "repatriated" had been fictitious, noting that your family had never arrived at Bangladeshi territory.

The statement said authorities determined whether they had lived in Myanmar and provided them with a national verification card.


It said that the family had been sent to stay "temporarily" with relatives in Maungdaw town.

Images accompanying the social media post on Saturday showed five individuals receiving identification cards - which do not grant citizenship - from uniformed Myanmar officials, and getting medical help and living provisions from health and social workers.

In an effort to address the crisis, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal in November to repatriate the Rohingya over the course of two years, beginning in January.

Most Burmese consider the Rohingya as unwanted immigrants from Bangladesh, and the army refers to them as "Bengalis".

They have been targeted by waves of violence, systematically stripped of their citizenship and forced to live in apartheid-like conditions with severely restricted access to health care, education and other basic services.

United Nations: The conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for the safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees to their homes, the UN refugee agency said, underlining that the responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the country's authorities.

Myanmar authorities have since bulldozed over numerous charred villages, raising alarm from rights groups who say they are erasing evidence of atrocities and obscuring the Rohingya's ties to the country.

Many refugees say they fear a repeat of the persecution that forced them off their lands if they go back under the repatriation deal, and of being placed in temporary transit camps for an unknown period of time as they await new housing.

Doctors Without Borders says the violence claimed at least 6,700 Rohingya lives in the first month alone.

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