The main obstacle to allowing Rohingya refugees ethnically cleansed from Myanmar to return to their homes remains the government of Myanmar. International actions aimed at addressing the crisis should reflect that reality.
The truth is clear when you speak to Rohingya refugees who continue to regularly arrive in Bangladesh, as we did last month as part of a team with Refugees International. Those remaining in Myanmar continue to face restricted movement, forced labor, and arbitrary arrest. This leaves little incentive for others to return.
It has been a year and a half since a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, in response to attacks on security posts by a Rohingya insurgent group, caused over 700,000 Rohingyas to flee into Bangladesh for safety. Thus far, none have chosen to return home.
Despite pledges by the Myanmar government to establish conditions for safe and dignified returns, our interviews with those who had fled Myanmar just days before suggested that life for Rohingyas inside Myanmar remains dire. There has been no real accountability for the atrocity crimes committed at the height of the ethnic cleansing campaign. Instead, serious human rights violations and severe restrictions on freedom of movement continue. Additionally, the security situation in northern Rakhine is deteriorating, and humanitarian access, already highly restricted, is being further curtailed.
Following the mass exodus that began in August 2017, only a few hundred thousand Rohingyas remain in Myanmar, primarily in isolated villages in northern Rakhine state. Rohingyas have long faced state-sponsored abuse and discrimination – including the denial of citizenship. Following the events of August 2017, the Myanmar government increased movement restrictions for Rohingyas, extending nightly curfews.
Apr 10, 2019Along the edge of the largest camp sheltering Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, hundreds of men and women with shovels and wicker baskets are turning a barren hill into a parking lot-sized plateau. The newly leveled land will eventually hold new stronger shelters for refugees from overcrowded parts of the camps. Under the direction of engineers […]
Mar 22, 2019
Mar 21, 2019