The UN High Commissioner for Refugees demanded to allow the Rohingya refugees to undertake go and see the current conditions in Arakan state for themselves before making a choice of wether to agree for return or not. The planned repatriation can only take place at their freely expressed wish that should be based on reliable idea of the conditions in their places to return. So that they themselves can make an independent assessment of whether they can return there in safety and dignity.
The UNHCR made the proposal in a statement on Sunday November 11, saying it does not believe current conditions in Arakan State are conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh. However, the refugees should be allowed to decide only after such go-and see visits that the current conditions in Arakan State would allow them to return in safety and dignity.
The UNHCR in the statement reiterated its support to the voluntary and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees to their places of origin or choice, and expressed their will toto work with all parties towards this goal. ‘UNHCR remain committed to supporting the efforts to improve conditions in Arakan state under the terms of the tripartite Memorandum of Understandig (MoU) signed by UNHCR, UNDP Burmese authorities in June.’ the statment added.
The brutal military crack down of Burma in August last year drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from their ancestral land to take shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh. Survivors brought with them testimony of widespread murder, rape, torture and arson.
The two neighbouring countries, Bangladesh and Burma after a repeated setbacks declared to start the repatriation in mid-November, even though international NGO and United Nations have said conditions are not yet fit for a safe, dignified and voluntary return. The refugees are also reported to be fearful of going back to Arakan state without full guarantees of safety, freedom of movement and rights of citizenship.