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13 December, 2017 12:39:04 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 December, 2017 09:31:30 AM
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Redraft deal, involve UNHCR, urges HRW

Rohingya repatriation
UNB
Redraft deal, involve UNHCR, urges HRW

Terming Rohingya return deal bad one, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said Bangladesh and Myanmar should invite UNHCR to join in the drafting of a new tripartite agreement, reports UNB. "After the widespread atrocities, safe and voluntary return of Rohingyas will require international monitors on the ground in Burma," said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at HRW. This means, Frelick said, a central role for the UNHCR, the only UN agency with a statutory mandate to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees.

"This should include some existing provisions, such as encouraging refugees to return voluntarily and safely to their own households and original places of residence or to a safe and secure place nearest to it or their choice," the global watchdog body said given the "critical flaws" in the agreement.

Headquartered in New York, HRW is aninternational non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The current agreement also commits Myanmar "to see that the returnees will not be settled in temporary places for a long time."

The agreement by Bangladesh and Myanmar to begin returning Rohingyas to Myanmar by January 23, 2018, creates an "impossible timetable" for safe and voluntary returns and should be shelved, HRW said in a letter to the two governments.

International donors, who would be needed to fund the massive repatriation effort, should insist that Bangladesh and Myanmar invite the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to join in drafting a new tripartite agreement that ensures adherence to international standards, it said. Since late August 25, more than 645,000 ethnic Rohingyas have fled a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Myanmar's security forces and sought asylum in Bangladesh. Human Rights Watch has interviewed more than 200 of the

refugees. Many said that they wish to eventually return home, but that they do not believe it is safe to return to Burma for the foreseeable future and until their security, land, and livelihoods can be ensured.

"Burma has yet to end its military abuses against the Rohingya, let alone create conditions that would allow them to return home safely," said Frelick.

"This agreement looks more like a public relations effort by Burma to quickly close this ugly chapter than a serious effort to restore the rights of Rohingya and allow them to voluntarily return in safety and dignity."

On November 23, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an "Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State" on behalf of "residents of Rakhine State" who crossed from Burma into Bangladesh after October 9, 2016 and August 25, 2017.

The agreement makes no reference to the cause of most of the forced displacement: a campaign of killings, widespread rape, and mass arson carried out by Burmese security forces that amounted to crimes against humanity.

The HRW said the agreement also fails to identify the displaced either as Rohingya or as refugees.

MK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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