Bangladesh scraps plan to start repatriating Rohingya

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Seppo also welcomed "small improvements" Myanmar had made so far and hoped that the global community and everybody else can work on making more progress on that so that the refugees are able to exercise their rights to return.

"They (Myanamar) have tortured us, killed our people". He said the only condition under which they were prepared to return to Myanmar was if they were given citizenship.

He told several reporters that the conflict between the Rohingya and Myanmar's government is not resolved, and "so many" Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine are flattened that there is no place to go back to.

But Bangladesh has vowed not to force anyone to return and it has asked the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to make sure those short-listed to return really want to go back.

Prasse-Freeman said the army responded to the attack with "extreme prejudice", and most likely received help from the Rakhine ethnic group, a Buddhist faction.

Vice-President Mike Pence criticised Myanmar's military for the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in a meeting with the country's leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday and said he was keen to hear that those responsible for the violence would be held accountable.

As Bangladesh and Myanmar have pursued various iterations of repatriation agreements, United Nations officials have repeatedly said they were not involved adequately in the process.

"I stayed back to guard my valuables", he said.

The most recent influx of refugees joined the roughly 300,000 Rohingya who had previously fled violence in Myanmar for camps around the Bangladesh city of Cox's Bazar.

"According to the UNHCR voluntariness assessment, none of the 50 families interviewed expressed their willingness to go back under the present circumstances".

"In Myanmar often we the Rohingya men fled our villages and spent nights hiding in forests and hills to avoid arrest by Burmese forces who usually raided at night", he added. They are viewed as "Bengalis" who entered illegally from Bangladesh, even though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar.

Authorities had said they planned to move the first group on Thursday but it is unclear whether they will go ahead.

In that context, Shringla said, India has built prefabricated houses in the Rakhine State and provided relief to Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar in three phases.

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Our return to our homeland in Rakhine State must be protected by worldwide observers.

And last week, over 20 individuals on the list told Reuters they would refuse to return to Rakhine, as they were terrified. "They are fully prepared", he said.

So while the Myanmar government talks about building temporary shelters, offering medical care and sufficient food rations for Rohingyas who return, many global observers insist the root causes of the violence and hate-filled attitudes need to be properly tackled before Rohingyas can return home and live with safety and dignity.

The UN has called on both governments to halt the "rushed" repatriation plans but the pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Bangladesh confirmed on Thursday that it was ready to begin the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar as scheduled.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There's fear about the future in the camps Why are the Rohingya in Bangladesh?

The US has accused the military of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority who are widely reviled in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Despite the promises by Myanmar, human rights activists say conditions are not yet safe for their return.

There have been widespread allegations of human rights abuses, including arbitrary killing, rape and burning of land over many years.

The mass exodus of Rohingya began after the Myanmar military responded to an initial attack from a group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on August 25, 2017.

Waves of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during previous bouts of repression. According to the head of the United Nations fact-finding mission, the genocide in Rakhine against the muslim minority is "still ongoing" and there were demonstrations this week among Buddhist Rakhine communities who protested against the return of the Rohingya.

"The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh is without excuse", he said.

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