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UN dispute Myanmar Rohingya repatriation claim



More than 670,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled from Myanmar's Buddhist metropolitan area to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017, bringing with them stories of military murder, rape and destruction of villages.

Under an agreement between Yangon and Dhaka, Rohingya refugees should return to Myanmar in January. But the UN and human rights groups say the move is dangerously premature.

In a statement on Saturday, Myanmar said that he repatriated the first Rohingya family of refugees who had fled to Bangladesh. However, UNHCR, a United Nations refugee agency, said in a statement on Sunday that it had no direct knowledge of the case and was not involved in the reported return.

Bangladesh's Refugee Assistance and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam also denied the claim.

"The family that went to Myanmar is part of some 6,000 Rohingya who live in the no-man's land camp on the Myanmar side of the Zero Line," he told CNN.

"Since the family never entered Bangladesh territory, this is not repatriation ̵

1; by definition, this is not official repatriation," he added.

  A newly built minority camp Rohingya Muslims is seen in Taung Pyo Letwe, in the Rakhine State near Myanmar border with Bangladesh

Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar's government claim, "is not propaganda," and the family decided to come back on their own initiative. "We take care of her," he added.

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Ethnic cleansing

The UN and the US say they believe in violence against the Rohingya is an ethnic cleansing , Myanmar denies most of the charges, claiming that its military only targeted alleged terrorists who killed 12 security officials at the end of August.

In January, however, the military admitted it killed ten Rohingya in a mass grave. Seven soldiers were sentenced to ten years in prison last week for serious killings.

The Rohingya have long been persecuted in the Buddhist majority of Myanmar, which describes them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh – effectively denying them citizenship – despite the fact that many families can trace their roots back hundreds of years.

Last week, UNHCR issued a statement that "the conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive to making the return safe, dignified and sustainable".

Rohingya continue to flee Myanmar. According to Matthew Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights, about 70 of them took a boat trip to Malaysia last week.

"Rohingya refugees on the move: A 70-boat on board is likely to arrive in Thai or Malaysian waters in a matter of days, provided they do not capsize or face other marine issues," Smith tweeted.

Between 2012 and 2015, more than 112,000 Rohingya, mostly by boat, fled to Malaysia. In May 2015, the world watched in horror as human traffickers on shaky boats with scant food and water supplies staked thousands of mainly Rohingya in the Bay of Bengal.


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