Myanmar takes back one Rohingya family despite UN concerns


Now, the first Rohingya family has been repatriated, Myanmar's government said in a Facebook post late Saturday, despite warnings from the United Nations that conditions in the country are not right for their return. The card has been widely rejected by Rohingya community leaders, who say they treat life-long residents like new immigrants.

Bangladesh and the United Nations refugee agency on Sunday disputed Myanmar's claim it had repatriated five members of a Rohingya family, saying neither the government of Bangladesh nor the aid agency had any involvement in any such repatriation.

Photos posted alongside the statement showed one man, two women, a young girl and a boy receiving the ID cards and getting health checks.

He said Bangladesh has given them temporary shelter on humanitarian ground.

Since August, more than half a million Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmar following waves of persecution and violence.

An estimated 687,000 Rohingya are now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. At least 6,000 Rohingya families have been living in the no man's land since that month.

"This is in no way a repatriation, rather it is propaganda", he said. That deal was supposed to begin in January, but the repatriation Saturday was its first.

Around 700,000 Rohingya are trapped in makeshift refugee camps like this one near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.

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Last week, the most senior United Nations official to visit Myanmar this year, the assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Ursula Mueller, said conditions in Myanmar were not conducive to the return of the refugees. The UN high commissioner for refugees said on Friday that the conditions in Myanmar were not yet conducive to safe, voluntary and sustainable returns of the Rohingya.

Last month a top Bangladesh cabinet minister, A M A Muhith, said it was unlikely the refugees would ever return, accusing Myanmar of deliberately obstructing the process.

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".

NVCs are part of the government's ongoing effort to register Rohingya which falls short of offering them citizenship.

It added that family members who "are in line with the rules" were issued with national verification cards (NVCs) upon entering Myanmar.

Bangladesh has given Myanmar a list of more than 8,000 refugees to begin the repatriation, but it has been further delayed by a complicated verification process. However, Bangladeshi authorities did not know anything regarding the matter. They're not officially considered citizens of any country and are largely shunned by Myanmar's mostly Buddhist population.

Asif Munier said Myanmar has time and again blamed Bangladesh when the latter is bearing the brunt of the Rohingya crisis, something the country is in no way responsible for.

The UNHCR also urged the Myanmar Government to immediately provide full and unhindered access to refugees places of origin in Rakhine, which would enable it to assess the situation and provide information to refugees about conditions in the places of origin, as well as to monitor any possible future return and reintegration of refugees.