The Rohingya refugees who visited their homeland Myanmar as part of an effort to encourage their voluntary repatriation have voiced frustration over the condition in Rakhine.
The Myanmar authorities have replaced entire villages with rows of buildings like camps for the Rohingya, said Abu Sufian, one of the 20 refugees who visited Rakhine on Friday.
“Everything has changed,” he said.
One thing has not changed: Myanmar will not grant them citizenship.
Another refugee, Mohammad Selim, said they would get National Verification Cards or NVCs to stay in the camps.
Selim thinks the Rohingya will not accept such an offer.
The refugee team consisted of 17 men and three women. Seven Bangladeshi officials from the Office of the Refugee Repatriation and Relief Commissioner accompanied them.
They travelled to Myanmar by boat from Teknaf and visited some areas in Mongdu during the daylong trip.
Upon return, Refugee Repatriation and Relief Commissioner Mohammad Mizanur Rahman said the situation in Mongdu township and surrounding areas has “improved greatly”.
As much as 80 percent of the people moving freely in the areas were Rohingya, according to him.
“The situation appeared conducive to repatriating the Rohingya. A Myanmar team will visit Bangladesh soon to discuss the repatriation of the Rohingya,” he said.
Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims are living in camps in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox’s Bazar, most after fleeing from a military-led crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in 2017.
The World Court in July 2022 rejected Myanmar’s objections to a genocide case over its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority, paving the way for the case to be heard in full.
A separate UN fact-finding mission concluded that the 2017 military campaign by Myanmar that drove 730,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh had included “genocidal acts”.
Bangladeshi officials have made several trips to Myanmar as part of efforts to get repatriation going, this was the first by Rohingya refugees since 2017.
Attempts to get repatriation going in 2018 and 2019 failed as the refugees, fearing violence, refused to go back to Myanmar, now ruled by a military junta that seized power in 2021.