Rohingyas’ voluntary repatriation requires continuous engagement: UNHCR

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 20:50, Aug 22, 2019 | Updated : 20:55, Aug 22, 2019

General views of Kutupalong refugee camp OO zone for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. OO Zone is one of the 22 newly built camp areas for Rohingya refugees, established since the August 25 influx. UNHCRThe UN refugee agency, UNHCR has said the voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas will require the continuous engagement of all concerned to build their trust as it is a process, not a one-off event.
“UNHCR remains committed to its role in supporting both governments in this process,” said the agency in a statement on Thursday (Aug 22).
“Building confidence is essential,” it added.
However, it is essential that UNHCR and UNDP have more predictable and effective access to Rohingyas’ places of origin and potential areas of return in Rakhine State, said the statement.
Through their bilateral Joint Working Group on repatriation, the government of Myanmar conveyed to the government of Bangladesh the names of 3,450 Rohingyas who have been cleared for return to Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Myanmar’s engagement in this process as a positive step in the affirmation of the right to return of Rohingyas, it added.
UNHCR has been assisting the government of Bangladesh in surveying the Rohingyas on whether they wish to return to Myanmar and to confirm the voluntariness of any individual decision to do so.
It said over the past few days, together with Bangladeshi officials, UNHCR has visited Rohingya families in their shelters to establish whether they wish to return to Myanmar. So far, none of those interviewed have indicated a willingness to repatriate at this time, it added.
UNHCR will continue assisting the government of Bangladesh in this process to ensure that all those cleared for return are interviewed.
“UNHCR appreciates the consistent commitment by government of Bangladesh to ensure that the Rohingyas’ decisions will be respected,” it added.
UNHCR has agreed with the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar that any repatriation of Rohingyas must be voluntary, safe and dignified, it said, adding that respect for these principles will also have the practical effect of helping to ensure that return is sustainable.
It said this has been confirmed in discussions Bangladesh authorities and UNHCR have had with Rohingyas this week. Many stated that they do hope to go home to Myanmar as soon as conditions allow and that assurances regarding their citizenship status, freedom of movement, and security in Myanmar could be provided, said the statement.
In late July, the statement said senior officials from Myanmar met with Rohingyas in the camps in Bangladesh and this was an important first step, and the dialogue should continue.
Together with UNDP, UNHCR is supporting the government of Myanmar’s efforts through the implementation of quick impact projects to improve conditions for all communities in Rakhine State and promote social cohesion between them, so that the voluntary return and reintegration of Rohingyas is possible, it also said.