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A long way to go

  • Published at 12:00 am January 20th, 2019
Rohingya
File photo of Rohingya refugees walk towards a refugee camp after crossing the Myanmar-Bnagladesh border Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

A repatriation agreement may be the first step, but without political will to back it up, the agreement is hollow


After agreeing to take back the displaced Rohingya, and even making a deal with Bangladesh to do so, Myanmar has failed, again and again, to create conditions conducive to safe repatriation.

It is no surprise, then, that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed his “enormous frustration” at the lack of any sort of headway with the plan; and the secretary general is not the only one -- German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen after a closed-door meeting said there was “extremely limited progress” on the repatriation front.

Bangladesh has known about the scale of the problem for quite some time, but now, even the world community has come to see clearly Myanmar’s lack of any genuine desire to guarantee safety for the Rohingya.

A repatriation agreement may be the first step, but without political will to back it up, the agreement is hollow.

Last November, out of an initial list of 2,260 Rohingya refugees, not a single person showed up for the first stage of repatriation, which sends a very clear message that the Rohingya do not feel safe going back, and they do not trust the Myanmar army to stop its persecution of their community.

To the Rohingya on our side of the border, even the difficult conditions in the refugee camps are better than the prospects they face back in their homeland.

This is hardly surprising: The Rohingya have seen their families murdered and their houses burned down, and so, for a repatriation plan to work, a solid assurance of their safety with the right kind of oversight is imperative, and this is where Myanmar is dragging its feet.

The world needs to hold Myanmar accountable -- the refugee crisis has gone on long enough.