Rohingya refugees face forced repatriation

Bangladesh and Burma agreed Jan. 16 to complete the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees within two years. According to a statement by the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the repatriation will be completed within two years from commencement. Under the agreement, Bangladesh will establish five camps. They will then move the Rohingya from these camps to two reception centers established on Burma's side of the border. Burma will then shelter the Rohingya in temporary accommodations while rebuilding houses for them. Humanitarian organizations are warning that this time frame is insufficient to guarantee a safe and voluntary return. A representative of the UN Refugee Agency said the Rohingya should voluntarily return only when they feel that it is safe to do so. (Jurist)

Advocates for the refugees are skeptical of official assurances from Burma and Bangladesh that all repatriations will be voluntary. Mark Farmaner from Burma Campaign UK told Sky News: "Bangladesh and Burma are effectively playing ping-pong with the Rohingya, while the rest of the international community stands by. They will be returned to giant prison camps, have no rights, and be at constant risk of further attacks by the Burmese military."