UN ready to send teams to Rakhine for repatriation of Rohingyas
The United Nations is preparing to send teams to Rakhine state of Myanmar to begin work aimed at repatriating Rohinya Muslims from Bangladesh to Myanmar, The Irrawaddy News reported today, quoting the regional head of the UN Development Programme’s Asia-Pacific region.
UNDP’s director for Asia-Pacific region Haoliang Xu said Thursday that UN officials were last week allowed to travel freely around northern Rakhine for the first time since August 2017.
A deal was struck between Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the UN agencies for development and refugees to allow Rohingya Muslims sheltering in Bangladesh to return safely and by choice.
Xu said an initial work plan still needed to be devised with the Myanmar government before proper assessment could begin.
“You can say we are working with an extreme sence of urgency. We are also preparing in parallel to send in teams,” he told Reuters.
He said the teams would assess the needs of an estimated 200,000 Rohingya and other communities who remain in northern Rakhine.
Xu explained that the plan was designed to create the conditions for return – by undertaking quick impact projects that will benefit the population who are still in Rakhine such as cash-for-work projects, small-scale infrastructure improvements or agricultural schemes.
Refugee leaders and human rights groups, however, criticized the memorandum of understanding by failing to give explicit guarantees that those who return will get citizenship or be able to move freely throughout Myanmar.
Xu said tackling these issues require taking small steps, adding that Myanmar has committed to providing a pathway to citizenship.