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No possibility of Rohingya returning soon: U.N. coordinator

Shared plight: The scene at a workshop on refugees, migrants and a wide variety of stateless people.  

There is no “real possibility” of Rohingya refugees returning to Myanmar from Bangladesh despite serial attempts to repatriate them, said Sumbul Rizvi, a senior United Nations coordinator in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

“The UNHCR, UNDP and Myanmar are talking to create a conducive atmosphere [to send refugees back] but at this point the return is not a real possibility,” Ms. Rizvi said.

Following attacks by both the military and Rakhine ethnic groups, about nine lakh Rohingya refugees reached Bangladesh in phases. Indicating that “80% of these 9,00,000 are women and children”, Ms. Rizvi said the attacks were made with a “clear genocidal intent”.

“I have not seen such population, practically all, fearing direct persecution,” Ms. Rizvi said at the penultimate session of a six-day workshop and seminar on “Protection system for refugees and migrants”, organised by the Kolkata-based Calcutta Research Group.

A resolution, titled Kolkata Declaration, on the status of refugees and migrants, was also adopted in Kolkata in the presence of refugee and migrant studies experts analysing the September resolution of the UN General Assembly that set in motion a complex global negotiation process on refugees, migrants and a wide variety of stateless people.

Meghna Guhathakurta of a Dhaka-based research organisation, Research Initiatives, said some of the answers to questions posed by the researchers to the refugees were “uncomfortable”. “Many women said they want their children to be religious leaders as there are no jobs for them,” she said. She noted that “terrorism is a potential threat” as people have grievances. “Many young boys have said that they want to join the Army to avenge their parents’ killing… there is a need to create alternative avenues for these young minds,” she said.

Migrants’ plight

In another interaction between the conference participants and a group of migrant workers from Bihar in west Kolkata’s port area, Khidderpore, the tough lives of such workers were highlighted.

“Migrant workers in the city have little social acceptability and even if they die it is a huge issue to inform their family members in Bihar, put a fund together and to send the body back home,” said Naushad Alam, who works in a shipping service.

The workers’ quarters on 28 Karl Marx Sarani where the interaction took place are in a dilapidated condition. “We leave our children and wives back home in Bihar...only the men live here,” said Mr. Alam. The area is “devoid of basic hygiene”, said Md Abuzar Zaidi, head teacher at a municipal school. The situation is not much different from the quarters of the Rohingya in Bangladesh, said a participant.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 8:57:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-possibility-of-rohingya-returning-soon-un-coordinator/article25645298.ece

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