Bangladesh is expecting to begin initial repatriation of Rohingyas to their home country in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Highly placed sources have stated that an initial group of 1140 forcible displaced Rohingya refugees will be repatriated to Myanmar at an unspecified date and 6000 will be returned by the end of the year.
Officials dealing with the repatriation suggest that the first return could be imminent.
They also said that the repatriation will take place following the recent visits of officials and representatives from Rohingya populations sheltered in Bangladesh.
In March, Bangladesh government facilitated two visits by Myanmar authorities to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
According to officials, groups of Rohingyas participated in ‘verification’ interviews with State Administration Council (SAC) officials of Myanmar.
Bangladesh and SAC officials also coordinated a ‘go and see’ visit to Rakhine State for some representatives of Rohingya community.
After their visit, officials said the Rohingyas have expressed “general satisfaction” with arrangements made for their return. However, UN sources said these assurances were contradicted by who participated in the trip had unequivocally rejected the repatriation plans.
Under the pilot project, according to the UN expert, Rohingya refugees will not be allowed to return to their own villages, many of which were razed to the ground during the genocidal attacks of 2017.
The Rohingyas would pass through “reception” and “transit” centers in Maungdaw Township, after which they would be moved to a designated area of 15 newly constructed “villages” – places they will not be allowed to leave freely.
“I implore Bangladesh to immediately suspend the repatriation pilot programme,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, in a press statement on Thursday. He also urged the international community to stand with Rohingya refugees in both word and deed.
“There are also reports of refugees being promised large sums of money, if they agree to return. These promises are allegedly being made even as food rations are being cut to $.27 per person per day for those in the Bangladesh camps. It remains unclear where the funds for repatriated families will come from,” Andrews said.