UN agency, Bangladesh begin survey of Rohingya over return to Myanmar
August 20 2019 12:33 PM
Rohingya refugees gather near the fence in the "no man's land" zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh b
Rohingya refugees gather near the fence in the "no man's land" zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh border as seen from Maungdaw, Rakhine state during a government-organized visit for journalists. August 23, 2018 file picture. AFP

Reuters/Dhaka

The United Nations' refugee agency and Bangladesh authorities on Tuesday started to consult more than 3,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to determine if any want to return home, officials said, as a fresh repatriation bid was launched.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine for neighbouring Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017 the United Nations has said was perpetrated with "genocidal intent", but many refugees refuse to go back, fearing more violence.
Myanmar cleared 3,450 people to return, from a list of more than 22,000 provided by Bangladesh, authorities said.
"The intentions surveys are beginning today," Louise Donovan, a UNHCR spokeswoman in the Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh, told Reuters.
"Together, the government of Bangladesh and UNHCR will ask these refugees to come forward and discuss the option of repatriation."
The agency will hold a second confidential interview with those who express a wish to return, she added, to discuss their intentions, and ensure the decision is voluntary, she said.
"They will be asked to complete a voluntary repatriation form," she added.
A representative of Bangladesh's refugee relief effort will also attend the interviews, a government official said.
"The UN refugee agency has started interviewing the Rohingya on the list," Mohammad Abul Kalam, the country's refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, said by telephone.
"Transit centres, transport facilities… everything is ready to start the repatriation on Thursday," he added.
The UN Security Council is set to discuss the latest repatriation plan behind closed doors on Wednesday, at the request of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany and the United States, diplomats said.
Previous attempts at persuading Rohingya to return to Rakhine have failed due to opposition from refugees. An effort in November sowed fear and confusion in the camps, and finally failed after refugee protests. 



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