'The Myanmar government is not paying heed to the international community. It has been deceiving Bangladesh and the world with lies'
Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million registered Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.
A number of world leaders have visited the refugees over the past months and have repeatedly assured them of the possibility for repatriation.
The Rohingya are staying in 12 cramped camps spread across 5,000 acres of land. Dhaka has been mounting pressure on the Myanmar government to take back its nationals, but no progress has been apparent so far.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim visited the camps on July 2.
The Rohingya refugees say the lack of progress and uncertainty over repatriation frustrates them.
“We have informed the UN chief and World Bank president about our frustration,” Kutupalang camp General Secretary Mohammad Nur said. “We have told him that we are grateful to the world leaders for visiting us and for listening to us. But the assurances they give us are never fulfilled.”
“They asked us to have patience and assured us of safe repatriation,” Nur added.
Moulvi Zafar Ahmed, one of the refugees, said they spoke to Guterres about the repatriation agreement between UNHCR and Myanmar.
“We told him that the agreement avoided issues like Rohingya citizenship and rights. We Rohingyas will be tortured again when we return to Myanmar,” he said. “The UN chief, in response, said they were making arrangements to ensure that we [the Rohingya] get our rights.”
Johura Begum, 45, who fled to Bangladesh like hundreds of thousands of Rohingya before her, shared her ordeal with Guterres and Kim.
“The [UN] secretary general has assured me that Myanmar will be put on trial. He also assured me that the UN has always stood by the Rohingya and will continue to support them. He asked us to have patience,” she said.
Johura added that she did not feel optimistic, saying: “So far, many leaders have assured us [of doing many things] but nothing has been done.”
Balukhali camp supervisor Lalu Majhi said their return to Myanmar was very unlikely. “The Myanmar government is not paying heed to the international community. It has been deceiving Bangladesh and the world with lies,” he added.
Thirty-five-year old Abu Sayed, from Kutupalang D 5 block, said they are waiting, but their hopes are fading. “We do not know when we will be able to return to our country.”