Hundreds of thousands of Muslim-majority Rohingya who fled Myanmar, citing rape, murder and arson, will not be forcibly repatriated, Bangladesh’s Rohingya Relief and Repatriation Commissioner has said.
“No one will be forced back to Myanmar,” Abul Kalam told Al Jazeera.
Bangladesh is scheduled to send back an initial group of 2,260 Rohingya from 485 families, in line with a bilateral plan agreed by the two governments in October.
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But the move has been opposed by the United Nations’ refugee agency and aid groups who say the minority can’t be forced back, causing confusion over whether the repatriations would go ahead.
“They survived atrocities so it’s natural they fear to go back,” Kalam said.
When asked whether the Rohingya would be guaranteed a “safe and dignified” return, Kalam said: “Everything is done as per the agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar. I hope the Myanmar authority will keep their words.”
The terms of the repatriation deal, however, has never been made public.
The plan to begin returning the Rohingya to Myanmar comes just days after UN investigators warned of an “ongoing genocide” against the lagely Muslim minority.
Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said beyond mass killings, the conflict included the ostracization of the population, prevention of births and widespread displacement in camps.
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