YANGON A month since the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments reached an agreement to begin the repatriation of mainly ethnic Rohingya refugees to northern Rakhine State, the process appears to have stalled.
On January 16, the two governments agreed to return the estimated 688,000 people who have fled to Bangladesh since August. The process was due to begin on January 23, but later it was delayed indefinitely by Bangladesh.
Myanmar insists it is ready. It has established two reception centers, one in the very north of Rakhine for those returning by land, and one further south for those coming back over the Naf River, which is the official boundary between the two countries. Once processed, the refugees will be transferred to what Myanmar officials have said are temporary camps elsewhere in Rakhine State.
The agreement attracted criticism from the international community and Rohingya currently in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
People here feel quite strong. They don’t want to go back unless they are ensured their citizenship rights and U.N. security, a Rohingya in southern Bangladesh where the camps are located, and who didn’t want to be identified, told VOA.
Gabrielle Aron, an independent analyst specializing on Rakhine affairs, said that many refugees in Bangladesh are hopeful the international community can intervene in the issue, but I wouldn’t say there’s a broad consensus on what specific international intervention should look like.
Aron said that one of the key concerns is the ability for the refugees to be able to return to their place of origin.
Source: Voice of America