The United Nations has warned that Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh cannot safely return home, as widespread violence and ethnic cleansing continues in Myanmar
The United Nations has warned that Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh cannot safely return home, as widespread violence and ethnic cleansing continues in Myanmar.
Andrew Gilmour, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said that recently-arrived refugees into Bangladesh camps were reporting “credible accounts of continued killings, rape, torture and abductions, as well as forced starvation” in Rakhine state.
Myanmar’s government has denied the abuses and signed a deal with Bangladesh in November saying it was ready to accept back refugees.
Gilmour said this was not a viable option, as the current conditions made a safe, dignified and sustainable return for the Rohingya people impossible.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR also expressed concern for those refugees living just inside Myanmar at the Bangladesh border, with reports received that several thousand people living in a makeshift camp were ordered to leave the area by Myanmar authorities.
Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Buddhist-majority Myanmar since August 2017 when security forces moved into Rakhine state, in response to insurgent attacks by Rohingya.
Those hosted by local communities or in the makeshift refugee camps are at risk from hunger, disease, lack of infrastructure and supplies, limited space, and, with the rain season approaching, ever harsher environmental conditions.
Gilmour said: “It appears that widespread and systematic violence against the Rohingya persists.
“The nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of last year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation that seems to be designed to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh.”
A statement from the UNHCR read: “UNHCR underscores that everyone has the right to seek asylum, just as they also have the right to return home when they deem the time and circumstances right.
“People who have fled violence in their country must be granted safety and protection and any decision to return must be voluntary and based upon a free and informed choice.”
Read More: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that over 700,000 Rohingya children are `trapped’ in situations either of violence or forced displacement as the crisis in Myanmar, which has spilled into Bangladesh, continues