Yangon, Myanma, MINA — Two United Nations agencies called on Myanmar to make “sustainable progress” for the return of Rohingya refugees, who have fled to Bangladesh to escape the brutal military crackdown in its western Rakhine state.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) had signed an agreement with Myanmar in June to create conductive environment for voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugee and their reintegration in the country.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.
At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published recently, the humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
In a press release on Wednesday, the agencies said: “Substantial progress is urgently needed in three key areas covered by the MoU: granting effective access in Rakhine State; ensuring freedom of movement for all communities; and addressing the root causes of the crisis.”
The UN agencies said the government has yet to respond to their request for international staff to be based in conflict-hit Maugndaw area and start their work in northern part of Rakhine state.
Myanmar authorities strictly restricted observers and international journalist access to the area.
The agencies said the remaining communities in the area continue to live in fear of one another.
“All communities have been affected by the violence, but the remaining Rohingya communities are affected most of all,” it said.
Freedom of move
Freedom to move was one of the most frequent requests expressed by Rohingya communities during the UNHCR-UNDP visit in early July, it said.
The agencies said root cause of the crisis in the area was needed to be addressed by implementing the recommendations of the former UN chief Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission.
“The signing of the tripartite MoU with the Government of Myanmar will not, in itself, allow Rohingya refugees to return home to Myanmar,” it said.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity. (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)