Myanmar announces first Rohingya repatriation

UN blacklists Myanmar military for sexual violence

Workers prepare a muddy field near structures recently set up by Burmese authorities on the outskirts of Maungdaw, Rakhine state, in January 2018.

Hundreds of Rohingya were reportedly killed in the recent violence, and many houses and villages burned to the ground.

Since August previous year, more than half a million Rohingya have undertaken perilous journeys to Bangladesh to flee persecution and violence in Burma.

The stateless Muslim minority has been massing in squalid Bangladesh camps since the Myanmar army launched a ruthless crackdown on the community in northern Rakhine state last August.

Fleeing Rohingya refugees have reported suffering including killings, sexual assaults and arson on a large scale, according to Reuters.

The UN has said the military-led operations that started last August amount to ethnic cleansing, but Myanmar has denied the charge, saying its troops targeted Rohingya militants.

The Rohingya are viewed as one of the most persecuted communities in the world.

Five members of a family who fled to Bangladesh due to ethnic violence returned to a "repatriation camp" and Myanmar authorities provided supplies and ID cards for them.

In a statement, the government said, five members of a Muslim family came to the Taungpyoletwea reception centre in Rakhine yesterday.

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The website claimed after conducting its own investigation that family entered the border area, where the refugees are camped out, to try "persuade" other Rohingya families to return to Myanmar. The Bangladesh government, with support from various global organisations, has been providing the refugees with emergency humanitarian aid at several refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

"The family members were scrutinized by immigration and health ministry officials and the social welfare, relief and resettlement ministry provided them with 'materials such as rice, mosquito netting, blankets, t-shirt, longyis (Burmese sarong) and kitchen utensils, '" the Reuters report said, citing the Myanmar government.

It comes despite warnings from the United Nations that Myanmar is not ready for their return.

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

The Bangladesh government is compiling a verified list of the Rohingyas at the camps for the repatriation effort. Many refuse to return without a guarantee of basic rights and citizenship.

Rohingya Muslims have always been treated as outsiders in Myanmar, even though their families have lived in the country for generations.

The vessel will be the second to arrive in Malaysia this month as the Rohingya flee Myanmar's Rakhine state before the onset of the monsoon season in May brings storms at sea that could endanger their lives.

Many Rohingya refugees say they fear returning to a country where they saw their relatives murdered by soldiers and Buddhist vigilantes who drove them from their homes.

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