Hindu refugees cleared for repatriation to Myanmar

T042905Z_2058865670_RC1E8887E160_RTRMADP_3_MYANMAR-ROHINGYA-REPATRIATION

Myanmar has failed to put in place conditions for the safe return of 688,000 Rohingya refugees who fled an army crackdown six months ago, the United Nations refugee chief said Monday.

"It is time to address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis, including the decades of repression inside Myanmar, so those who fled feel safe enough to return to their homeland", United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said.

Myanmar has rejected calls at the UN Security Council for the release of 2 journalists who were arrested after reporting on an alleged massacre of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

"Granting freedom of movement, allowing internally displaced people to return home, and fast-tracking confirmation of their citizenship would send a strong signal to refugees in Bangladesh that Myanmar is genuinely committed to taking responsibility for their protection and well-being, and to pursuing lasting solutions". "It is important that the actions of the journalists must also within the bound of the law", he said. Grandi said the construction of infrastructure to support the logistics of return should not be confused with the establishment of conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation.

Addressing a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Haley said Myanmar is "preventing access to Rakhine to anyone or any organization that might bear witness" to alleged atrocities against the mostly stateless group, Reuters reports.

They assured that the European Union and its parliament will continue to extend full support to Bangladesh to solve the crisis.

The UN Refugee Agency chief said humanitarian access remains extremely restricted and UNHCR has not had access to affected areas of the northern part of Rakhine State, beyond Maungdaw town, since August 2017, and their access in central Rakhine has also been curtailed. "An end to violence and destruction of property and granting humanitarian access throughout Rakhine State - as called for by the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) - were critical, basic steps", he said.

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Myanmar has denied that ethnic cleansing has taken place.

The outflow of Rohingya people from Rakhine State continues, although at a lower rate, said Jenca.

Disease outbreaks - including diphtheria - remain a significant risk at the sprawling settlements.

"The Government is steering a massive emergency preparedness effort, but global support must be stepped up to avert a catastrophe".

More than 100,000 refugees are now located in flood or landslide prone areas, Grandi said, while tens of thousands of particularly vulnerable refugees need to be relocated as their lives are "at grave risk".

The foundations of existing shelters need to be strengthened, bridges built and reinforced and new land found and made ready, he said.

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