Burmese government officials said the “time is now appropriate to invite” UN agencies to get involved in the repatriation and resettlement of Rohingya refugees.
Antagonism between Rakhine’s Buddhist community and Rohingya Muslims led to communal violence in 2012, forcing at least 140,000 Rohingya from their homes into squalid camps for internally displaced people. Most Rohingya are treated as stateless persons with limited rights, and the insurgents drew support from the discontented as prejudice against their community grew in overwhelming Buddhist Burma.
Stanislav Saling, a UN spokesperson in Burma, confirmed that in response to Burma’s initiative, the UN agencies submitted a note proposing how they could help create conditions “for the safe, dignified and voluntary return for refugees, in line with international principles.”
Neither the UN nor the government made public details of the proposal.
The international community has accused Burma’s military of atrocities against the Rohingya that could amount to ethnic cleansing, but the government and military deny any organized human rights violations.
Burma’s civilian government led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to start the gradual repatriation of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
Burma’s government says 374 refugees out of more than 8,000 whom Bangladesh has verified as qualified to return are free to return at their convenience.
“We have handed the list of 374 people to the Bangladesh Embassy so that they can immediately start their repatriation,” Myint Thu said. “These 374 people can be the first repatriation batch.”