Myanmar on Thursday finally allowed UN agencies to play a role in the repatriation of Rohingya refugees who have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
“The UN agencies will cooperate with the government for the repatriation of the displaced persons who have been duly verified so that they can return voluntarily in safe and in dignity,” said a statement from the office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The government announced it had signed an agreement with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), allowing them to get involved in the much-delayed repatriation process.
“The UN agencies have been invited to take part in various stages of return and resettlement, and to support access to livelihoods through the design and implementation of community based intervention,” it said.
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal for the return of refugees earlier this year, but with the repatriation delayed, concern is growing over the lack of involvement by international organizations in the process.
Myanmar government said earlier this month that it has verified 1,101 in a list of over 8,000 Rohingya refugees, who are willing to return to Rakhine state. The list was sent by the Bangladeshi government.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children, and women have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.
At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published recently, the humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
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.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
By Kyaw Ye Lynn