11, Apr 2018 | CJP Team
Ursula Mueller, the United Nations’ Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, recently completed a six-day visit to Myanmar. “From what I’ve seen and heard from people – no access to health services, concerns about protection, continued displacements – conditions are not conducive to return,” Mueller has said, according to a Reuters report. Myanmar’s government has previously promised to ensure that the repatriation of Rohingya refugees as per its deal with Bangladesh would be “fair, dignified and safe”. The government has thus far confirmed several hundred Rohingya refugees; in March, a Myanmar official said these would be the “first batch” of refugees to return to the country “when it was convenient for them”. A military crackdown in late August 2017 prompted more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh. Myanmar’s government said it was conducting operations against Muslim “terrorists”. Mueller said she asked officials “to end the violence…and that the return of the refugees from (Bangladeshi refugee camps in) Cox’s Bazar is to be on a voluntary, dignified way, when solutions are durable“. In January, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed that the refugees’ voluntary return would be concluded in two years. Myanmar has established two reception centres and a camp that it says is temporary to receive the returning Rohingya. In January, a Myanmar official said they ready to receive them. However, Mueller said she was “really concerned about the situation” when asked if she believed the government’s promise that the Rohingya would be permitted to go home following temporary stints in camps. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in February that at least 55 villages that were abandoned had been bulldozed. “I witnessed areas where villages were burned down and bulldozed…I’ve not seen or heard that there are any preparations for people to go to their places of origin,”Mueller said. Myanmar officials have reportedly said the villages were bulldozed to facilitate the resettlement of returning refugees.