Myanmar Announces Repatriation of First Rohingya Family

Myanmar said Saturday it has repatriated its first family of Rohingya refugees.

Rights groups say the move amounts to a publicity stunt because security concerns for the returning Rohingyas have not been addressed.

The United Nations refugee group said Friday the conditions in Myanmar “are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable. The responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the Myanmar authorities and these must go beyond the preparation of physical infrastructure to facilitate logistical arrangements.”

Myanmar said in a statement that the family of five has completed the repatriation process and is temporarily staying with relatives in Maungdaw town, near the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The statement said the family has been issued a national verification card. However, the card does not identify them as Myanmar citizens.

Rohingya leaders have rejected the ID cards, saying they want full rights and citizenship for Rohingyas who have faced persecution in Myanmar for decades.

The family is among the estimated 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state for neighboring Bangladesh. The exodus began in August after attacks by Rohingya militants on state security forces led to military reprisals that the U.N. says were executed in a well-organized, systematic and coordinated manner and amount to a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar denies the ethnic cleansing charge, saying its troops targeted Rohingya militants.

The Myanmar government statement did not give any details about the return of any other refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are sheltering at Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh. They have given harrowing accounts of Myanmar security forces killing and raping Rohingyas while looting and burning their villages in Rakhine state.

Source: Voice of America