UN Disputes Myanmar Rohingya Repatriation Claim

UN Disputes Myanmar Rohingya Repatriation Claim

Bangladesh today rejected as "farce" a claim by Myanmar that it has repatriated first five Rohingya Muslim refugees among around 700,000 who fled the Buddhist-majority country after a brutal crackdown by the military.

"The family who went to Myanmar is part of around 6,000 Rohingya living in the no-man's land camp, on the Myanmar side of the zero line", he told CNN. It said a family of five, including an individual named Aftar Ar Lwan, had returned to one of its reception centres in Rakhine state.

Myanmar in its statement on Saturday said the family of five were scrutinized by immigration and health officials and the social welfare, relief and resettlement ministry provided them with "materials such as rice, mosquito netting, blankets ... and kitchen utensils".

"Since the family never entered the Bangladesh territory, this is not a repatriation". The card is a form of ID, but does not mean citizenship, something Rohingya have been denied in Myanmar, where they've faced persecution for decades.

The post did not mention plans for further returnees expected in the near future.

"By no definition can this be called repatriation", he said by phone from Cox's Bazar. Only 600 have been verified by Myanmar, the activist group Human Rights Watch said.

He, however, did not said that if any more repatriation were being planned immediately as Bangladesh had already given a list of more than 8,000 refugees for repatriation.

According to UN officials, almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh from Rakhine to escape a military crackdown since August, amid reports of murder, rape and arson by Myanmar troops and Buddhist vigilantes which the United Nations has likened to "ethnic cleansing".

He also held meetings with Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali and the Home Minster which he described to be very fruitful in overcoming "many difficulties in the process of beginning the repatriation process of the Rohingyas".

Myanmar has denied almost all allegations, saying it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

A prosecutor from the International Criminal Court (ICC) has recently sought jurisdiction over the "deportation" of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, with the aim of investigating and prosecuting those responsible. It has systematically dismantled their legal rights and access to basic services in Rakhine, a state where many have lived for generations.

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