- A U.N. chief said Rohingya safety and citizenship must be addressed before repatriation
- Bangladesh postponed the repatriation process because preparations were not made yet
- Many refugees are worried about their safety if they return
- Hundreds of Rohingya have taken part in protests against repatriation in recent days
The U.N. refugee chief says more time is needed to prepare the return of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh to western Rakhine state in Myanmar.
Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday that issues surrounding Rohingya citizenship and safety needed to be addressed before their repatriation.
"In order for the repatriation to be right, sustainable, actually viable, you need to really … address a number of issues that for the time being we have heard nothing about, including the citizenship issue, the rights of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, meaning freedom of movement, access to services, to livelihoods," media outlets quoted Grandi as saying.
The remarks came after Bangladesh postponed the gradual repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, which was slated to begin Tuesday, amid concerns that the refugees could be coerced into leaving.
“We have not made the preparations required to send back people from tomorrow (Jan. 23). A lot of preparation is still needed,” Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam said on Monday.
Meanwhile, tensions have mounted at refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh where authorities have been trying to draw up a list of Rohingya Muslims who could be sent back to Myanmar.
Hundreds of Rohingya have taken part in protests against repatriation in recent days. Local authorities in Cox's Bazar on Monday prevented hundreds of them from holding a rally at one large camp.
- Bangladesh Postpones Rohingya Repatriation Process
- Many Rohingya Refugees Are Not Ready to Return to Myanmar
Attackers on Monday killed a Rohingya representative in a camp, the second such death in three days.
Sources said the dead man was a camp leader at Balukhali camp on the border with Myanmar. District police chief Iqbal Hossain said Yusuf Ali, 60, was stabbed to death.
Mohammad Yusuf, a leader in neighboring Thaingkhali camp, was shot dead last Friday. The Dhaka Tribune described the victim as a pro-repatriation leader.
His wife Jamila Khatun, 35, said some 20 armed and masked men had stormed their home and shot her husband in the head and the mouth.
Local media and a Rohingya leader have linked the killings to fears of being sent back. Police have rejected any such connection.
Bangladesh and Myanmar last week finalized an agreement that would facilitate the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees over the next two years.
The refugees refuse to go back unless their safety can be guaranteed and Myanmar heeds their demands for citizenship and inclusion in a list of recognized ethnic minorities.
The U.N. says nearly 680,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine for Bangladesh since violence intensified last August.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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