This must be a voluntary exercise on the part of the Rohingya and cannot, by any means, be forced upon them
This is encouraging -- more than 3,500 Rohingya refugees have been cleared for repatriation to Myanmar, with a fresh attempt at returning the Rohingya to begin next week.
However, there are still issues which exist and, unfortunately, these are yet to be resolved.
For one, before the repatriation begins, it must be remembered that this must be a voluntary exercise on the part of the Rohingya and cannot, by any means, be forced upon them.
Unfortunately, this process has, for the longest time, been stuck in limbo: Myanmar has continuously filibustered the repatriation process, lying about their willingness to take back the Rohingya while putting the blame squarely on Bangladesh’s shoulders.
Furthermore, the UN has repeatedly stated that Rakhine is not suitable for repatriation; according to sources, Myanmar has been fighting an insurgency in the area for months, leaving the area volatile and unsafe for the Rohingya to come back to.
And with Myanmar still refusing to provide full access to international organizations and the press, there remain too many doubts regarding the feasibility of repatriation, at least one that does not put the Rohingya back in danger.
Before the process begins, it is of paramount importance that organizations deem Rakhine safe; the Rohingya have already fled persecution on a scale that is difficult to imagine, and it would be tragic to send them back to what they had run away from in the first place.
We hope that those responsible for their well-being take this into account and do everything in their power to ensure that repatriation, when it does happen, is done with the best interests of the Rohingya in mind.