COX’S BAZAR, Oct 3 — It’s been called the fastest-developing refugee emergency in the world. More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have poured into Bangladesh since August and now Myanmar says its top priority is to bring them back.
The two governments have agreed to come up with a plan to repatriate hundreds of thousands of refugees who’ve fled a bloody crackdown by the Myanmar military.
Officials say the process can start at anytime for those who want to return and verified refugees will be accepted without any problem.
But that proposal would appear to be vastly over-simplified.
Similar plans for the Rohingya have been made in the past. The fundamental problem is they’re still denied citizenship and classified as illegal immigrants.
Many fear they won’t have the documentation that Myanmar authorities will demand to let them back in.
Others simple don’t want to turn back.
“They’re slaughtering, killing, shooting and setting fire to our homes, we couldn’t take it anymore. We travelled for three days crossing hills and jungles to reached here,” says Fatema Khatoon, a woman who wrrived this morning.
For potentially tens of thousands of Rohingya who don’t want to return to Myanmar but also don’t want to stay in squalid Bangladeshi border camps, another migration could be on the cards soon.
And as the end of the monsoon season brings calmer seas, many are now likely to head south for countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. — Reuters