Myanmar is sending a high-level delegation soon to camps in Bangladesh to attempt to convince hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims they can return home, Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador said Monday.
Some 740,000 Rohingya fled a brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s military in 2017 in Rakhine state and are living in camps in Cox’s Bazar. Many refugees have been traumatized, providing accounts of rape, mass killings, and razing of villages.
The United Nations has described the mass expulsion of the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing.” Myanmar’s army claims the campaign was justified to root out Rohingya insurgents who staged raids on border posts in August 2017.
Myanmar’s Ambassador Hau Do Suan told a General Assembly meeting that his government will “dispatch a high-level delegation to Cox’s Bazar very soon, by the end of July, to explain to the displaced people the arrangements made for the repatriation and resettlement.”
He said some 30,000 Rohingya had requested to return, of whom about 13,200 have been verified as former residents and “can return to Rakhine anytime.”
Myanmar has faced international pressure to allow the Rohingya to return to Rakhine and grant them citizenship rights. The United Nations has complained that progress to address the refugee crisis has been far too slow.
“The only viable solution for the refugees is the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation to Myanmar,” said UN envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner-Burgener.
“And the key responsibility for creating conducive conditions in Rakhine lies with Myanmar.”
She said that a “first step” to addressing the Rakhine crisis would be to halt the heavy fighting with the Arakan Army (AA), a group pushing for more autonomy for the state’s ethnic Buddhists.