The humanitarian organizations call for Rohingyas’ engagement on safe and voluntary returns
Rohingyas have been struggling for their rights, security and dignity since they were forced to flee to Bangladesh from their homeland two years ago.
Local, national and international non-government organizations (NGOs) expressed their concerns over the possibility of worsening crisis in Myanmar, in a joint statement on Wednesday.
The 61 NGOs also called on Bangladesh and Myanmar for the refugees’ engagement on safe, voluntary returns.
The call was made following the news of repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar this week.
A brutal military offensive by Myanmar forced more than 740,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. They are yet to receive justice, the joint statement said.
The refugees said they are fearful and anxious following recent reports about possible expedited repatriation to Myanmar in the current conditions which do not guarantee their safety and rights.
Current levels of engagement do not afford them their right to make informed decisions about their future, including voluntary return, said the humanitarian organizations.
The statement said the conditions in Myanmar are not conducive to the Rohingya refugees’ return at this time.
There is no meaningful development in the human rights and freedom of movement of the Rohingya people in Rakhine state, it noted. The scope for discussion with the displaced community is also very limited.
The Human Rights Watch has also urged the two governments to suspend the repatriation, saying the conditions in Rakhine State are not conducive for voluntary, safe, or dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas.
The NGOs noted that a recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that not only have preparations for return been minimal but authorities continue to raze Rohingya villages to make room for military bases and potential repatriation camps.
The recent upsurge in violence has worsened the already precarious humanitarian situation in central and northern Rakhine State.
Discriminatory policies in Myanmar mean that Rohingya communities in Rakhine State continue to face severe restrictions in movement, as well as limited access to education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities.
Some 1,28,000 displaced Rohingya and other Muslim communities have remained confined in camps in central Rakhine State since 2012.
The government has granted restricted access to humanitarian organizations. In this context, the NGOs demanded ensuring refugees’ engagement in repatriation, including their right to make a free, informed decision about their return.
They demanded Myanmar government ensure the basic rights of the Rohingyas as well as the safety of other communities of Rakhine State so that they can access basic services and opportunities to earn livings.
To solve the current crisis, these organizations are determined to support and ensure the rights of the Rohingya refugees and local communities.
They urged all parties to ensure meaningful participation of the Rohingyas in decision making processes about their future; respect Rohingyas’ human rights in Myanmar; support their inclusive access to education, livelihood and protection; and identifying medium/long-term solutions.
For the last two years, the NGOs have been supporting Bangladesh and UN agencies to ensure the basic needs of the people living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Ukhiya.
The collective efforts of the humanitarian community under the leadership of Bangladesh have improved camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks.