• Tuesday, Oct 20, 2020
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Myanmar, UNHCR, UNDP extend MoU on Rohingya repatriation

  • Published at 05:36 pm May 11th, 2020
Rohingya
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The MoU is aimed at creating a conducive condition for voluntary and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh

Two UN bodies have given the Myanmar government one more year, to establish a framework for the voluntary return of ethnic Rohingya Muslims to their homes.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Monday agreed to extend a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Myanmar for another year, reports UNB.

This framework for cooperation between the UN and the Myanmar government was initially signed on June 6, 2018, and previously extended in May 2019.

The MoU is aimed at creating a conducive condition for voluntary and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh.

Commenting on the situation the UN agencies said, “Creating a conducive environment for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees and to improving the enjoyment of human rights for the population still residing in Myanmar is the responsibility of the government of Myanmar, UNDP and UNHCR remain committed to supporting this work.”

The exchange of documents took place between the Myanmar's Ministry of Labor, Immigration, and Population, and representatives of the UN bodies. The MoU will extend cooperation through June 2021.

In a joint statement, UNDP and UNHCR said while the environment in Rakhine is not yet conducive to the voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas, the MoU has allowed the UN agencies to assess the immediate needs in over 120 villages so far in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.

Since the initial MoU was signed in 2018, a total of 75 quick impact projects (QIPs) have been approved, including for community infrastructure such as water improvement, school and road rehabilitation, skills training and income-generating projects, as well as projects targeting persons with specific needs.

A seventh round of assessments is now proceeding but constrained due to the Covid-19 situation. Efforts are underway to raise awareness within the communities about Covid-19 prevention.

This latest extension of the MoU comes amid ongoing armed conflict leading to increased humanitarian needs among all communities across the state, and deepening the operational challenges faced by UNDP, UNHCR and partner organizations.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since August 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar's army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings-including of infants and young children-and brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity and genocidal intent.

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