UN, Bangladesh seek thousands of Rohingya to return to Myanmar

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Bangladesh and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began consulting on Tuesday with more than 3,000 Rohingya refugees to decide whether they wanted to return to Myanmar as a new attempt to return them was launched, officials said.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine State to neighboring Bangladesh after the army in August 2017 led a campaign the United Nations said was “the intention of genocide”. Many refugees refuse to return to Myanmar for fear of further violence.

Myanmar has authorized the return of 3,450 refugees from a list provided by Bangladesh with more than 22,000, authorities said.

“Surveys of intent are beginning today,” said Louise Donovan, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh.

“The Bangladesh government and UNHCR will jointly ask these refugees to come forward and discuss the option of return,” she told Reuters.

She said the UNHCR would hold a second closed-door interview with those who were willing to return to find out their intentions and make sure the decision was voluntary.

“We will ask them to fill out a voluntary request for return”.

A government official said a representative of Bangladesh’s refugee relief agency would attend the meetings.

“UNHCR has started to meet the Rohingya on the list,” Bangladeshi Commissioner for Refugees Relief and Repatriation Mohammad Abul Qalam said by telephone.

“Transit centers and transport facilities … everything is ready to start the deportation on Thursday,” he said.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold a closed-door session on Wednesday at the request of France, Britain, the United States, Germany and Belgium to discuss the latest plan to return refugees to Myanmar, diplomats said.

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