- Bangladesh signed a deal to involve the U.N. in the Rohingya repatriation process
- This is so it would not be accused of sending anyone involuntarily
- The Rohingya want guarantees of citizenship before returning to Myanmar
- Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as their nationals
Bangladesh has signed a deal to involve the United Nations in the controversial process of returning persecuted Rohingya refugees to Myanmar's state of Rakhine, the country’s junior foreign minister says.
Shahriar Alam told reporters at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh's southeastern border district of Cox's Bazar on Monday that the Dhaka government was involving the U.N. refugee agency so that it could not be accused of sending anyone from the stateless Muslim minority back against their will.
He said refugees would be asked to fill out repatriation forms in the presence of U.N. officials.
"We have repeatedly said this repatriation process is very complex," media outlets quoted Alam as saying.
"We want to fill up the (repatriation) forms in their (U.N.) presence so that no one can say they [have] been forced by someone or sent back against their will," he added.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Alam urged patience and said Bangladesh did not want to send back the refugees only to have them returned, as has happened after past rounds of repatriation.
Bangladesh "wants to make sure the situation in Myanmar is safe and secure," he noted.
There was no immediate comment from the U.N., which has said previously that any repatriation must be voluntary.
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- Rohingya Crisis Is Threatening Regional Security: UN
Since August, a military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar has forced nearly 700,000 members of the one-million-plus-strong community to flee their homes in Rakhine and head to Bangladesh.
Despite the campaign against the Rohingya, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed late last year to repatriate all the newly-arrived refugees.
The implementation of that agreement was supposed to begin last month, but it was postponed, with no new date set, amid fears that the refugees may be coerced into leaving.
Refugees are still entering Bangladesh with harrowing tales of abuses, including mass rapes, executions and torture, by Buddhist mobs and the military. Many have lost their homes to arson attacks in their native Rakhine state, where rights groups say entire Rohingya settlements have been burned to the ground.
The U.N. has described the campaign against the Rohingya as textbook example of ethnic cleansing, saying it possibly amounts to genocide in a court of law.
The Rohingya want guarantees of citizenship before returning to Myanmar, which views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as their nationals even though they have been there for generations and refrains to give them citizenship.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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