Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

First Rohingya family returns to Myanmar after conflicts

First Rohingya family returns to Myanmar after conflicts

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military imposed a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya living in Rakhine State last August in what has been described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" - an accusation Myanmar denies.

"Since the family did not enter Bangladesh, their return can not be considered repatriation".

According to a Myanmar government statement posted late on Saturday, one family of Rohingya refugees became the first to return earlier in the day.

"The five members of a family. came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state this morning", said a statement posted on the official Facebook page of the government's Information Committee.

A member of a Rohingya family is issued with her ID card.

There are some people stranded in the no man's land at the Myanmar border.

Rohingya who have been repatriated in the past have been forced to live in camps in Burma.

"They were not under our jurisdiction, therefore we can not confirm whether there would be more people waiting to go back [to Myanmar]", he told AFP.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Myanmar's Rakhine State to refugee camps in Bangladesh following violence in August which the United Nations has labelled ethnic cleansing.

No further information has been given about other possible repatriations.

Rights groups are expressing scepticism over the announcement that Myanmar has repatriated the first Rohingya family, despite warnings from the UN.

The recent spasm of violence began when Rohingya insurgents launched a series of attacks last August 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets.

Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) criticised the repatriation announcement as "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine state".

Last week, the most senior United Nations official to visit Myanmar this year, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller, said the conditions in Myanmar were not conducive to the return of the refugees.

"Another practical measure would be to ease restrictions on movement for the internally displaced persons encamped in the central townships of Rakhine state, which would also help to build confidence among refugees in Bangladesh", it added.

"The widespread threat and use of violence was integral to this strategy, serving to humiliate, terrorise and collectively punish the Rohingya community, as a calculated tool to force them to flee their homelands and prevent their return", Guterres said.

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