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Guarantee their safety first

  • Published at 05:16 pm November 24th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:25 am November 25th, 2017
Guarantee their safety first
Since August 25, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have crossed over to Bangladesh fleeing persecution, and this refugee inflow has not yet stopped. And while the solution do ultimately lie in repatriation to Myanmar, sending the Rohingya back only makes sense if their safety can be assured, and if Myanmar stops its anti-Rohingya campaign. An agreement for Rohingya repatriation has been signed following a meeting between Bangladesh’s AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, but how much sense does it make at this point? If repatriation does happen, it must comply with the proposal made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and so must be a lasting solution. As things currently stand, Bangladesh must be sceptical of the agreement. There are reports from Human Rights Watch claiming that Myanmar has been setting up camps for the refugees, which would effectively be open air detention camps. HRW also fears that the rights and movement of the Rohingya would be severely curtailed, and they would be deprived of basic day-to-day necessities. So while repatriation is a good goal, it is of utmost importance to make sure these refugees are not plunged into a situation which makes them worse off than they were before -- and this fear is precisely the reason why so many Rohingya do not want to return to Myanmar. Myanmar has been dishonest before, and if promises of safe repatriation are empty, then we are looking at a humanitarian crisis that will only get worse with time. To that end, we hope Myanmar will allow full access to international agencies to monitor the condition of the Rohingya -- after all, they should have nothing to hide.