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Dhaka Tribune

'Rohingyas to go back when they are ready'

The IOM Bangladesh chief says the Rohingyas know better about the situation in Rakhine than anyone else

Update : 04 Dec 2019, 10:28 PM

A vast number of Rohingyas are willing to return to Myanmar, claims the chief of International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Bangladesh mission, insisting that they will go back when they are ready.

Bangladesh and the international community are struggling to find a solution to the prolonged Rohingya crisis which poses a serious threat to national and regional security.

"The only people who can take the decision to go back are the Rohingyas themselves. It has to be a voluntary decision," Giorgi Gigauri told a workshop on "Reporting Migration" at a Dhaka hotel on Wednesday, reports UNB.

Bangladesh is currently hosting over 1.1 million members of the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority, most of them forced to flee their homeland in Myanmar's Rakhine State since late August 2017. The presence of this huge number of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals has sparked tensions with locals and put the two groups on a collision course.

Gigauri said tackling tension between the Rohingyas and the local community is a priority for the next year.

Rohingyas, long subjected to state-sponsored discrimination in Myanmar, fled their homes in large numbers after the military launched a bloody offensive in the pretext of an anti-terror campaign.

Myanmar has denied charges of murder, rape, arson, torture and loot perpetrated during its military campaign. Two Reuters journalists were arrested and later jailed for reporting the killing of 10 Rohingya men in a Rakhine village.

Dhaka and Naypyidaw signed an agreement for repatriation but there has been no progress. 

Gigauri said IOM's job is not to convince the Rohingyas but to provide them right, objective information.

Planning Minister MA Mannan on Tuesday said the government is working closely with other countries of the region to find a suitable solution to the Rohingya issue.

The UN Refugee Agency on November 28 said it is extremely difficult to set a timeline when a conducive environment for the return of Rohingyas will be created as there are "too many factors".

The IOM Bangladesh chief said the Rohingyas know better about the situation in the Rakhine State than anyone else. 

"They know exactly what is happening there. They are in touch with their relatives that are there. They know everything," Gigauri said.

"So, when they are ready, trust me, they will go."

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