Myanmar team verifies 480 Rohingyas for repatriation from Bangladesh
Dhaka, Mar 22 (EFE).- A delegation from Myanmar that arrived in Bangladesh last week to restart the long-stalled repatriation process of Rohingyas left Wednesday after identifying around 480 refugees, authorities said.
“They told us they would inform the Myanmar authorities the result of their verification,” Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mizanur Rahman told EFE.
The 17-member delegation arrived in Cox’s Bazaar district, which houses the largest Rohingya refugee camp, on Mar.15 to start the verification process.
Bangladesh houses nearly one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
Around 774,00 arrived in the country following the Myanmar military’s campaign of persecution and violence in 2017, which the UN classified as an example of ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.
Dhaka claims to have collected the biometric data of around 830,000 Rohingyas, submitted to Myanmar authorities to verify their arrival.
However, only 58,000 have been verified.
Bangladesh authorities submitted a list of 1,140 Rohingya refugees to initiate their repatriation, but Myanmar authorities had initially agreed to process 711, Rahman said.
They interviewed the remaining group members at a transit camp in Teknaf, a Bangladesh town that borders Myanmar.
Rahman said there was no discussion with the Myanmar delegation about when repatriation might start.
A Mar.19 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees statement said it was aware of the visit for a bilateral pilot project on possible returns but was not involved in such a process.
“UNHCR’s position on returns of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar remains unchanged,” the statement said.
“Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are currently not conducive to the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees,” it added.
Bangladesh has twice attempted to repatriate members of the community to the neighboring nation. But the attempts failed over the lack of citizenship and security guarantees for the refugees.
Rohingyas said they did not see much hope for the start of repatriation on a large scale.
“Those who came here are mostly immigration officials. They are not the responsible persons to start repatriation. They only asked refugees their names and their parentage. They did not even ask them if they were willing to go back,” said Ali Janah, a spokesperson for the Rohingya Youth Association.
“We do not think this visit will bring a positive outcome. Rohingyas, who are in Myanmar, do not have citizenship, or freedom of movement.” EFE