The Rohingya people living in Bangladesh have given a mixed reaction about a deal signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar on Thursday, outlining the repatriation process of the displaced Rohingya.
Dil Mohammad, 55, who has been living at the no man’s land along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border for the past three months, claimed to have lost his homestead at Maungdaw during the recent violence.
“We never imagined that we will have to abandon everything and leave our country. The Myanmar Army destroyed properties belonging to the Rohingyas in just one night,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
He added the Rohingya people are hoping to finally return home after hearing that the Bangladesh government has signed a repatriation deal with Myanmar.
However, some refugees expressed confusion over how long it would take for the repatriation deal to come into effect.
Commenting on the issue, octogenarian Shajahan Mia said: “I want to go back to my birthplace but do not want to flee again to save my life. I had fled Myanmar in 1991, 2000, 2012 and 2017.
"We are tired of running back and forth between the two countries.”
Some of the Rohingya people believe that the Myanmar government is toying with their emotions through this deal.
Shahida Khatun, hailing from Buthidaung, remains sceptical about the repatriation agreement.
“I do not want to comment on the matter. I hope that decisions benefitting the Rohingya people get implemented this time. I will believe in the effectiveness of this agreement once I see some positive development,” she told the Dhaka tribune.
Many Rohingya are living in Bangladesh for decades, and are longing for their homeland in Myanmar.
Abdur Rahim, who arrived in Bangladesh at the age of 17 in 1991, said: “I have heard many stories from my parents about Myanmar. My roots are in Rakhine, and I want to go and settle there someday. Here, we are introduced as refugees, but I cannot accept this identity.”
According to the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, more than 631,500 displaced Rohingya entered Bangladesh in between August 25 and November 24 following the recent spate of violence in northern Rakhine state.
Human Rights Watch, on the basis of satellite images, revealed that at least 288 villages were partially or completely burned in northern Rakhine State since August 25.
The Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens and forces them to live in camps under apartheid-like conditions.
Even before the recent influx began, several thousands of Rohingyas were already living in Bangladesh since 1991.
According to a statement of Press Information Department (PID), the government has already registered more than 600,000 Rohingyas, to help ease the repatriation process.