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UN chief says Rohingya refugees cannot return

#chief #Rohingya #refugees #return

UN Chief Justice Michelle Bachelet said Wednesday it remains unsafe for Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, nearly five years after a crackdown there sparked an exodus to neighboring Bangladesh.

Nearly a million members of the predominantly Muslim minority live in a sprawling and run-down patchwork of refugee settlements near Bangladesh’s southern coast.

Most fled their homes after a Myanmar army offensive in 2017, which is now the subject of a landmark genocide case before the United Nations Supreme Court.

Five years later, without guarantees of their safety and rights, the refugees are refusing to return to Myanmar, which is now ruled by a military junta after the civilian government was overthrown last year.

Bachelet met with members of the Rohingya community during a tour of the camps on Tuesday and said she encountered “resounding hope” that the refugees could return to their homes.

“Unfortunately, the current situation across the border means that the conditions for a return are not right,” Bachelet told reporters in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital.

“Repatriation must always be voluntary and dignified, only when conditions are safe and sustainable in Myanmar.”

Bangladesh is growing increasingly impatient with the presence of its huge refugee population, and Bachelet said she was concerned by “increasing anti-Rohingya rhetoric” and community blame.

She added that many refugees fear for their safety because of the activities of armed groups and criminal gangs.

Security was a constant concern in the camps, with numerous killings, kidnappings, and police flags targeting drug trafficking networks.

Two Rohingya community leaders were allegedly shot dead earlier this month by an insurgent group active in the camps accused of assassinating political opponents.

Bachelet was in Bangladesh for a four-day visit before her term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expires later this month.

While touring the camps on Tuesday, she urged the international community to continue supporting the Rohingya despite increased global focus on more recent crises.

She added that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being felt strongly among the Rohingya, as global food prices are skyrocketing and driving up the cost of supporting a humanitarian-dependent population.

“I would insist that the international community does not abandon and continue to support the Rohingyas and even consider whether they can increase their support and support due to the aftermath of the war,” she said.

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