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ID cards critical for Rohingya repatriation: UN

– Such cards are important ways to protect Rohingya identity and right to return to their homeland, says UNHCR

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Burma Times) – All the Rohingya who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar and took shelter in Bangladesh’s southern refugee camps need to get viable ID cards to ensure meaningful and safe repatriation, according to the UN refugee agency.

“So far, more than 125,000 refugees have been registered and issued with ID cards,” said a UN press release, coinciding with the end of a five-day visit to Rohingya camps by Volker Turk, the assistant high commissioner for protection at the UNHCR agency.

“Many [Rohingya] have never had proper identity documents, which are important means to protect their identity and their right to return to Myanmar,” Turk said in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka late Thursday.

Urging special care for women and children, he added: “With more than half a million young girls and boys in the [Rohingya] camps, we now need to give more refugees more opportunities to channel their energy into meaningful and productive activities and secure the future of the Rohingya population once they are back home.”

The impact of the Rohingya refugees on the lives of Bangladeshi host communities must be recognized and addressed, he said.

In Dhaka, Turk held high-level talks with Bangladeshi officials focused on providing conditions for the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of refugees to Myanmar, said a UNHCR press release.

Issues like expanding opportunities for Rohingya refugees to build their skills and knowledge, particularly so they will be able to contribute to society in Myanmar when they are able to return, were also discussed, it added.

– Persecuted people

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.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingyarefugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – and brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity and genocidal intent.

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