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Updated On: Tuesday, December 12 2017

UNHCR Concerns about Rohingya Returns

Content by: South-South News

28 November 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — An agreement between the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh over the return of Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar has prompted the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to release a statement today urging that any refugee return be done according to international standards.

Some 622,000 people have fled Myanmar's northern Rakhine State since August 25, triggered by a wave of violence underpinned by denial of citizenship and decades of deep discrimination.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said, "UNHCR has not yet seen the details of the agreement. Refugees have the right to return. And a framework that enables them to exercise this right in line with international standards will be welcome. First and foremost, this means that return must be voluntary, and take place in safe and dignified conditions that pave the way for lasting solutions."

The announcement of Rohingya returns came out in a press release, according to UNHCR. Edwards stressed repeatedly that the UN agency has not yet seen the details of this agreement, but emphasized that there should be no precipitous return of refugees, given both the trauma they have suffered and current conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Edwards said, "At present, conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are not in place to enable safe and sustainable returns. Refugees are still fleeing, and many have suffered violence, rape, and deep psychological harm. Some have witnessed the deaths of family members and friends. Most have little or nothing to go back to, their homes and villages destroyed."

Edwards stressed that divisions between communities remain deep, and unaddressed, whilst humanitarian access in northern Rakhine State remains negligible.

He said, "It is critical that returns do not take place precipitously or prematurely, without the informed consent of refugees or the basic elements of lasting solutions in place. People must have the option of returning home, and not be confined to specific areas. Progress towards addressing the root causes of flight, including their lack of citizenship, as recommended by the Rakhine Advisory Commission, will also be crucial.”

UNHCR has announced that it looks forward to seeing details of the agreement between the two countries, and stands ready to help both governments work towards a solution for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh that meets international refugee and human rights standards.

Ratko Mladic, 74, was the military leader of the Bosnian Serb forces during the war in Bosnia 1992-1995. He was arrested in Serbia, where he was hiding, in 2011 and had been on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) since 2012.

The Court convicted him today to life in prison. It found that Mladic "significantly contributed" to the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, where more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered, in addition to many other crimes committed by the troops under his command.

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