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Alaturka Gazetesi

Turkey rejects Amnesty International's claims on Syrians in Turkey

By Sibel Morrow

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Friday rejected the allegations by the Amnesty International that Syrians in Turkey were forcibly repatriated, threatened, and mistreated, calling the claims “unreal and fictional”.

"We reject the allegations in the report published today, October 25, by Amnesty International regarding Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey,” said Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

Aksoy emphasized that Turkey hosts nearly 4 million displaced people, including more than 3.6 million Syrians, at a period when many countries were building walls at their borders and hiding behind barbed wire.

“While hosting these people in the best manner, we fully respect the principle of non-refoulement in line with our international obligations,” Aksoy said, adding that there was no change in Turkey’s approach.

“In this respect, claims in the report that Syrians are forcibly sent back, threatened and subjected to mistreatment are unreal and fictional.”

Aksoy pointed out that Turkish authorities were carrying out the process of safe and voluntary return of Syrians to their country in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and non-governmental organizations.

Aksoy noted that around 365,000 Syrians voluntarily returned to areas cleared of terrorism by Turkey in Syria.

“Turkey reiterates at every occasion that the return of refugees should take place voluntarily and safely and that this process should be conducted in line with international law,” he said.

“We believe that if necessary humanitarian and physical infrastructure and security conditions are met in Syria, Syrians can return to their country,” he added.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

“We consider that the international community has an important responsibility in facilitating the process of safe and voluntary return of Syrians,” Aksoy said, stressing that Turkey would continue to take the necessary steps to improve the living conditions of Syrians.

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Alaturka Gazetesi

ANALYSIS – Rohingya refugee crisis: Beirut syndrome in Cox’s Bazar

By Khawaza Main Uddin

– The writer, a journalist based in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, is the winner of the UN Millennium Development Goals Award, Developing Asia Journalism Award, and WFP Award. He has master’s degrees in both journalism and international relations.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Applauded worldwide for welcoming the persecuted Rohingya in the southern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar two years ago, local community is getting frustrated at the Myanmar nationals’ prolonged stay on their soil.

Many of the hosts could not hide their discontent after a major attempt of repatriation on Aug. 22 failed and the refugees held a huge rally on Aug. 25 to mark the second anniversary of their eviction from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The moment they expressed relief for not being deported from Bangladesh, Dhaka realized it was left with little option to send them back to Myanmar shortly.

The stateless ethnic Muslims, who have outnumbered the locals, expressed their unwillingness to return until recognition as citizens and the security of life and properties are guaranteed in their homeland.

The authorities are showing signs of toughness and the local people pose hostilities towards the refugees. Tensions are brewing since the murder of a local leader allegedly by a group of Rohingya on Aug. 23 and subsequent killing of four refugees in what law enforcement personnel reported as crossfire.

At least 10 Rohingya were killed in such a firing over the last month, according to the official reports.

This situation is reminiscent of the Palestinian refugee crisis in Beirut, Lebanon, a civil war-torn country bordering the state of Israel established on Palestine land in 1948.

Some Lebanese groups entangled in conflict with the Palestinians and Beirut, which was once vibrant like Casablanca or Dubai, turned into a bruised city.

Up to 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese, were killed in Sabra and Shatila massacres committed by a right-wing militia allied with Israel in 1982. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s guerrillas were eventually ejected from Beirut following a siege by the Israeli forces.

Cox’s Bazar, a beach town sharing its border with Myanmar, has hosted, on the slopes of hillocks, tens of thousands of men and women who escaped genocide in Myanmar. They were not allowed to enter neighboring India at a time when Turkey hosted three million Syrian refugees.

The Rohingya came in large number also in 1978 and 1992 but many have not left Bangladesh.

Their aggregate number in Cox’s Bazar — around 1.1 million — is more than double the army of Palestine refugees in Lebanon between 1948 and 1982.

“Our area has been crowded, commodity prices have gone up and our livelihoods have been seriously affected after their influx,” said Nurul Kabir, a member at Rajapalong Union Council in Ukhiya sub-district, where most camps are set up.

Some others blamed the Rohingya for destroying forest and hillocks as well as increasing number of vehicles in their neighborhood. A group of them launched a “Campaign to Save Cox’s Bazar” from the “infiltrators.”

Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Minister AK Momen vented his irritation after the setback for the political initiative, mediated by China, to repatriate the Rohingya as they feared further repression in Myanmar.

“The Rohingya have to go back… We want the situation there to improve. Our goal is to repatriate them. Steps would be taken if someone hinders the process,” he told the reporters.

His Awami League government has halted the operation of 41 NGOs in the Rohingya camps as they are being criticized for disrupting the latest repatriation move following another abortive attempt in November last year.

Since the Myanmar military crackdown on Aug. 25, 2017 led to exodus of more than 730,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh, around 1,100 inmates of the camps have been reportedly detained and charged with various crimes.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch urged Dhaka to end restrictions on Rohingya’s freedom of movement.

“The authorities should take a level-headed approach instead of overreacting to tensions and protests by isolating Rohingya refugees in camps,” Brad Adams, the Asia director of the group, said on Sept. 7.

There is another sentiment, as echoed in Cox’s Bazar beach or reflected on social networking sites, as to how long the Rohingya will sit idle and why a densely populated Bangladesh will continue to entertain the guests for years.

When the refugees’ presence has been a challenge, official records show, almost 100 newborns are being added to the million every day.

Muhammad Abul Kalam, the refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner of the Bangladesh government, just used euphemism in regretting that the host community is burdened with the situation since there are stresses on local resources.

“These displaced people need livelihoods. We cannot bear them for an indefinite period,” he told a foreign delegation recently.

Bangladesh’s generosity to receive the Rohingya in 2017 was appreciated widely and the ruling party supporters then gave their leader, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a unique title — “the mother of humanity.”

In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow entry of more than one million migrants into her country earned her global respect and she became a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Given the disillusionment with the Rohingya policy, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director at the civil society organization COAST Trust, noted in his social media post: “Blaming the NGOs for failure to ensure the Rohingya’s voluntary return is meaningless and cursing the helpless people is inhuman… All of us can rather contribute to achieving diplomatic success while we as nation won’t die if we feed them.”

Still, such words may not stop others from having a suspicious look at the Rohingya camps where what happens after the sunset is hardly known to anyone in the outside world.

* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

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Alaturka

India to support Bangladesh in repatriating Rohingya

By Md. Kamruzzaman</p> <p>DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – India has assured Bangladesh of its support for the early repatriation of Rohingya refugees who fled a crackdown by Myanmar's military and are now living in camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district.</p> <p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave the assurance when visiting Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, who called on both of them separately in New Delhi on Thursday, according to a press release issued by the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi.</p> <p>Tensions have recently risen between the two countries as at least 1,300 Rohingya Muslims have reportedly crossed into Bangladesh from India since the start of the year in fear of forced deportation to Myanmar.</p> <p>Some 40,000 Rohingya are believed to have taken shelter in India over the years, according to media reports.</p> <p>Bangladesh also foiled an attempt in January by 31 Rohingya refugees to enter the country after being stranded in no-man’s land between the two countries’ borders for four days.</p> <p>Momen met Modi and asked for India’s support for early repatriation of the Rohingya to their birthplace in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Modi reiterated that India is always with Bangladesh and assured him of India’s cooperation.</p> <p>Rohingya refugees as well as rights bodies have been demanding safety guarantees and citizenship rights before repatriation, however. </p> <p>Singh also noted that the early repatriation of Rohingya is a priority and assured that they will be supporting the Indian government in any initiative toward this objective.</p> <p><br>

  • Persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience “.

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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Alaturka

Bangladesh to handle Rohingya resettlement after polls

By Md. Kamruzzaman

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AA) – Two big initiatives to resolve the Rohingya crisis — repatriation since mid-November and resettlement since early October — have been stalled for an indefinite period due to the persecuted refugees’ reluctance on the grounds of security and rights.

Both issues are likely to be dealt with by the new government of Bangladesh following the year-end general election.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, more than one high Bangladeshi government official confirmed to Anadolu Agency that before the Dec. 30 national election there is no possibility of working on the Rohingya crisis.

More than 750,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh and took shelter in makeshift camps at the southeastern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar since Aug. 25, 2017, when forces in neighboring Myanmar launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in Rakhine state.

On the one hand, Rohingya Muslims have vowed not to go back to Myanmar — their country of origin — without citizenship rights, ethnic identity, guarantees of safety, and returning to their original homes and lands. On the other hand, most are afraid to move to Bhasan Char, a distant island reportedly prone to bad weather.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was scheduled to open the new settlement for 100,000 Rohingya refugees at Bhashan Char on Oct. 3, but this has been postponed indefinitely.

Under a consensus of the two countries — Bangladesh and Myanmar — in a first phase more than 2,200 Rohingya were planned to be repatriated on Nov. 15, although international NGOs and the United Nations have repeatedly urged Bangladesh to do it on voluntary basis, as tens of thousands of Rohingya in Myanmar are still confined to detention centers and Myanmar’s government still does not accept the Rohingya as citizens.

Amid such uncertainty, the work on isolated Bhasan Char at an estuary of the Meghna River is close to being finished.

– Working people are happy

Tens of thousands of low-income working people of riverine Bangladesh’s coastal area are happy about the resettlement project.

Mohammad Rajib, 30, a mason and native of another remote island, Hatia, in the southern Noakhali district, now working at the Rohingya resettlement project for about six months, told Anadolu Agency that he is happy as his daily income is now 800 Bangladeshi taka (around $10), about twice his previous irregular income.

Like Rajib, thousands of workers from all over Bangladesh are now working in the project at Bhasan Char, a muddy islet that emerged from the Bay of Bengal in 2006.

In this remote coastal area, hundreds of construction workers and day laborers are on the move every day by trawler or engine boat to and from Bhasan Char. They are pleased with the opportunity to earn extra income.

“I think that after completing the project, an extension will be started, as more than one million Rohingya are living in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf areas [in southeastern Bangladesh] and they need a new location,” Abdur Rahim, a trader running a small hotel on Bashan Char, told Anadolu Agency.

Excluding construction, many people from surrounding areas are also running small hotels and tea stalls on Bhasan Char and dream of better livelihoods from the project.

– Non-beneficiaries confused

Locals who do not benefit from the project, however, see things a bit different. They fear the long-term impact of the relocation of 100,000 outsiders.

Abdul Khaleq, a businessman on Hatia, told Anadolu Agency that the resettlement on this distant island will never be temporary. It must turn permanent, as the Rohingya population growth rate is very high.

“Some of the Rohingya must leave anyhow and try to get involved in criminal activities to earn money,” claimed Mohammad Momin, a bank employee on the island.

So many Rohingya living on an isolated islet depending on relief aid and under the watchful eye of law enforcement is no laughing matter, said Hatia schoolteacher Abdul Hamid.

– Alternative development

What will happen if the Rohingya are not relocated to Bhasan Char? A Navy commander seeking anonymity told Anadolu Agency that still, tens of thousands of local people in coastal areas are completely homeless due to river erosion.

The Bangladeshi government has also prepared a list of the victims of river erosion. This project is for the permanent development of Bangladesh, and in case of failure of the Rohingya resettlement here, the government may rehabilitate its own homeless people, the Navy official said.

The Bangladesh naval force can also use this settlement in many ways as it is the first permanent structure of its kind closest to the Bay of Bengal, another navy commander told Anadolu on condition of anonymity.

– Relocation in 4 phases

Bangladesh's Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury said earlier this month that 25,000 Rohingya will be relocated to Bhasan Char in the first phase following the formal inauguration of the prime minister.

Gradually, the remaining 75,000 Rohingya will be resettled in three phases in the shortest time possible, he added.

The project includes arrangements of schools for children, hospitals with modern equipment and even mosques, he said, adding that Rohingya would have the opportunity to fish and farm cattle.

– Rohingya Plight

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

In a recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya; The Untold Experience, the OIDA raised the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (± 881) from a Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police. Over 115,000 Rohingya houses were also burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

The latest UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has found the country's military guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity including rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced nudity, mutilations, torture, persecution, and enslavement.

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Alaturka

UNICEF concerned over repatriation of Rohingya

By Bayram Altug

GENEVA (AA) – UNICEF voiced concern on Friday over reports on forcible repatriation of Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh to Myanmar.

“This week we have seen widespread reports that Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh may be forcibly repatriated to Myanmar, reports that UNICEF views with the utmost concern, with particular concern at how such a move would affect children,” Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF’s spokesperson told a press briefing in Geneva.

Boulierac said his colleagues working in one of refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar witnessed a large protest by Rohingya against the plans for repatriation.

“The camp authorities reinforced the message that while they are ready to repatriate refugees on a voluntary basis, no Rohingya refugees will be forced to return to Myanmar if they do not wish to do so,” he said.

He noted an “overwhelming majority” of the refugees were reluctant to be repatriated unless their safety was ensured, according to unofficial polls conducted in the camps by UNICEF.

“For many, the trauma they witnessed during their exodus from Myanmar at the end of 2017 is still fresh in their minds,” he added.

He also called on the international community to continue working with Bangladesh and Myanmar governments to support Rohingya children and families.

UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday urged the Bangladesh government to halt plans for the repatriation saying it would put the lives of refugees at stake and violate international law.

– Bangladesh suspended 1st scheduled repatriation

On Thursday, the Bangladeshi government halted the first scheduled Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar following protests by over 700,000 refugees.

Md Abul Kalam, commissioner of the Bangladesh Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, told Anadolu Agency that all preparations were complete from their side, but the Rohingya were not willing to return to their home country.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience. ”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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Alaturka

OPINION – Forced return of Rohingya crime against humanity

By Maung Zarni

*The writer is a coordinator of strategic affairs for the Free Rohingya Coalition and co-author of 'The Slow Burning Genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya' (2014)

LONDON (AA) – From the Red Cross to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, with the principal mandate for refugee protection, the world is screaming foul at the Bangladesh-Myanmar bilateral repatriation scheme scheduled to begin on 15 November, today.

The International Committee of the Red Cross’ Robert Mardini based in Myanmar told reporters that “we still believe that the conditions are not right for voluntary, safe, dignified returns …. Nobody can claim today that the security in Rakhine is so well established that people can return safely.”

Last night, 150 fear-stricken Rohingyas were taken by Bangladeshi authorities to a transit camp on the Bangladesh side of the border, apparently without their volition.

The plan is to return an initial batch of 2,200 Rohingya survivors of the Myanmar genocide to be followed by repatriating another 2,000. If the two countries go ahead with the repatriation – reportedly reached under pressure from China (and India) – the move will amount to a crime against humanity in international law.

Doreen Chen, international law coordinator for the Free Rohingya Coalition and director of a Geneva-based advocacy group Destination Justice, said pointedly, “given what we know about the conditions the Rohingya are likely to face on their return to Myanmar, together with the documented unwillingness of many Rohingya to return, it is unconscionable to repatriate them at this time. ” She further added, “indeed, it goes far beyond that: the mere act of repatriation itself not only violates the international law principle of non-refoulement but may amount to the crime against humanity of forcible transfer.”

So a deeply alarming situation is emerging wherein the two signatories – Myanmar and Bangladesh – to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide or Genocide Convention – are proving their willingness to flaunt international law, with Myanmar perpetrating the crime, and the neighbouring Bangladesh planning to forcibly transfer the survivors back into harm’s way.

On 24 October, the UN Fact Finding Mission Chair and former attorney general of Indonesia Marzuki Darusman officially and emphatically told the Security Council that Myanmar’s genocide is “ongoing”.

The genocidal conditions on the ground are still pushing the remaining Rohingyas out of Rakhine State. Boat loads of Rohingyas who attempted to flee the hellish situation in their homeland of Northern Rakhine have recently been caught and detained by both Bangladeshi and Myanmar Navies.

There are 120,000 Rohingyas in “concentration camps”, the term used by German Foreign Office officials in private meetings with Rohingyas, where they have been caged since the organized violence erupted in 2012, and an additional 400,000 live in “vast open prisons” in towns such as Buthidaung and half of the un-burned Rohingya villages.

This complete and utter absence of physical safety of Rohingyas, as individuals and as a group, has not been lost on Prime Minister Sheik Hasina of Bangladesh. She proposed the establishment of a ‘safe zone’ on Rohingyas’ original place of residence inside Myanmar at the United Nations General Assembly for the last two consecutive years – 2017 and 2018.

Therefore, it is perplexing and alarming that Dhaka seems determined to push ahead with the bilateral repatriation – against the well-documented wishes of the overwhelming majority of 1.2 million Rohingya in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. Understandably the volume of Rohingya refugees put an enormous burden on Bangladesh. Besides, the international community – rich countries, in particular – have not fulfilled their pledges to share this burden in concrete humanitarian dollars or euros.

Bangladesh is also under pressure from powerful Asian governments such as China and India to start the repatriation and to treat the cross-border impact of hosting 1 million refugees fleeing the genocide next door.

To make matters worse, Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi has been in a state of complete denial with respect to the facts on the ground – that the military has commissioned the crime of genocide, a fact which she denies. She has defiantly dismissed every research and human rights report that finds Myanmar’s crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, from the 444-UN Fact Finding Mission report of 18 Sept. to Yale and Queen Mary University of London reports on Myanmar genocide.

So, when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told her face-to-face in their meeting in Singapore that Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingyas is “without excuse” she rebuffed the American acerbically, instead of acknowledging the ugly truths about her government.

In her own words, “in a way, we can say that we understand our country better than any other country does and I’m sure you will say the same of yours, that you understand your country better than anybody else.”

As a matter of fact, it is Ms. Suu Kyi’s Foreign Ministry that has been engaged in anti-Rohingya propaganda, circulating official statements and making media comments, which frame the military’s brutal attacks on unarmed Rohingyas as Myanmar’s legitimate self-defence against “terrorists”.

Her government also promotes the anti-Rohingya propaganda film by the known American Islamophobe Rick Heinzman.

Mr. Heinzman is banned on Twitter and Facebook for his hate-promotion but is provided by Ms. Suu Kyi’s government with unprecedented, free access to the killing fields of Rakhine to do his anti-Rohingya video-recording. She continues to block the UN Fact Finding Mission members and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Ms. Yanghee Lee.

Against this backdrop, the safety of Rohingyas in Myanmar cannot be entrusted to their Burmese perpetrators in power without concrete international interventions. Establishing a coalition of UN member states – such as Malaysia, Turkey, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, the U.S., the U.K. and so on – that have expressed acute concerns about the plight of Rohingyas. This would constitute a vital step towards guaranteeing the safety to facilitate voluntary return of Rohingyas to their homeland and eventually ending Myanmar’s ongoing genocide.

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Alaturka

UK 'deeply concerned' about Rohingya repatriation plans

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – A senior British minister said Wednesday he is “deeply concerned” about plans to begin the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar because of atrocities by the military should be able to return voluntarily in a safe and dignified way, Minister for Asia and Pacific Mark Field said in a statement.

“I am deeply concerned by the plans to begin repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Burma [Myanmar] in the coming days,“ Field said. “The United Nations and other international organizations have been clear that conditions for the Rohingya to return to Burma have not yet been met.”

“Violence and impunity persist in Rakhine and refugees continue to flee Burma,” he said.

Bangladesh sent troops into Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar as forced repatriation to Myanmar fuels fear among refugees, the Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

The repatriation of more than 2,200 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar will begin Nov. 15, amid claims by Bangladesh it is voluntary.

Refugees, however, told the Guardian that many Rohingya families have gone into hiding.

UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday urged Bangladesh to halt repatriation plans because it would put the lives of refugees at stake and violate international law.

Underlining “the UK has consistently emphasized that the repatriation of any Rohingya refugees to Burma must be voluntary, safe, dignified, sustainable and uphold their human rights,” Field said, along with many other nations, “the UK recognizes the way that the people of Bangladesh and the government of Bangladesh have handled one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time, despite the great hardships this has placed on their own people.”

He demanded a guarantee from Myanmar for necessary safeguards of the Rohinya minority.

“We call on the Governments of Bangladesh and Burma to uphold the internationally recognized principles of voluntary, safe and dignified return, and urge the Government of Burma to guarantee the necessary safeguards for and protection of any returning Rohingya refugees,” Field said.

“Ensuring safe freedom of movement, equal rights, access to health and education services, as well as citizenship for all Rohingya is essential,” he said. “We continue to call on the Government of Burma to grant full and unimpeded access for UN and international organizations, as well as international observers, to monitor and assess any future repatriation efforts.”

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience. ”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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Alaturka

Crisis Group urges halt to forced Rohingya repatriation

By Nilay Kar Onum

ISTANBUL (AA) – The Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) urged Bangladesh to halt the plan to return Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

In a statement titled “Bangladesh-Myanmar: The Danger of Forced Rohingya Repatriation ” on Monday, the group criticized the deal between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the Nov. 15 repatriation of more than 2,000 Rohingya refugees.

“Myanmar and Bangladesh should halt the plan and instead work to create conditions conducive to a safe and dignified return,” the ICG said.

It warned a forced repatriation carried serious risks for security and stability on both sides of the border and would escalate tensions in the camps as well as leading to confrontations between the refugees and Bangladeshi security forces.

“If refugees fear that they will be forced back to Myanmar, they may become more desperate to leave the camps and to attempt dangerous sea journeys across the Bay of Bengal to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia or other countries, ” read the statement. “This could have wider regional implications, as it did during the maritime migration crisis of 2015. ”

The global advocacy body also called on the UN and its refugee agency to continue to “firmly oppose the repatriation in public and in private and use its influence in both countries to halt the process. ”

“The U.S., European Union (EU), Australia, Canada, and others also should press Bangladesh and Myanmar to halt the returns and instead work to create conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation; those countries’ participation at the 11-15 November ASEAN summits in Singapore is an opportunity to do so, ” it said.

– Persecution of Rohingya

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience. ”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Categories
Alaturka

Fresh batch of refugees return to Syria from Lebanon

By Wasim Saif al-Din

BEIRUT (AA) – A fresh batch of Syrian refugees returned to their homes from Lebanon on Monday as part of an ongoing repatriation initiative overseen jointly by the UN, the Lebanese authorities and the Syrian regime.

According to Lebanon’s state press, “hundreds” of refugees returned from Lebanon to their homes in Syria on Monday via the Al-Masnaa, Al-Aboudiya and Al-Zimrani border crossings.

The repatriation campaign is also being coordinated by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

A Lebanese security source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that at least 700 refugees had set out for Syria on Monday from different areas of Lebanon.

Mustafa Mansour, head of the Syrian Workers' Union in Lebanon, said his union was working to ensure — in coordination with the Lebanese security apparatus and the Syrian embassy — the “safe and voluntary” repatriation of “hundreds” of Syrian refugees.

According to Lebanese figures, roughly 1.5 million Syrian refugees still remain on Lebanese territory. The UN, however, puts the number at less than one million.

Beirut has repeatedly warned that its large refugee population — for which it has received scant international assistance — was putting unsustainable pressure on its already limited resources.

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Turkish agency provides jobs to Afghans returning home

By Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – The Turkish Red Crescent (Turk Kizilayi) on Wednesday gave two shops to two Afghan nationals, as part of a project to support Afghans who voluntarily return to their countries.

The project provides job opportunities to Afghans after their voluntary return to their homeland.

In a ceremony held in the Afghan capital Kabul, two Afghan nationals were given a shop and a carpentry workshop within the framework of the project.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ibrahim Altan, head of the Turkish Red Crescent, said the Afghan nation liked working and the agency is making efforts to support them.

“At the first phase, we have opened a shop and a carpentry workshop for two Afghan brothers who are living in Kabul.

“The five-month rent of the shops and all the materials in it were provided by the Turkish Red Crescent,” Altan said.

He went onto say that they prepare everything and the Afghan people coming back to the country were having their own businesses straightaway.

Altan said the support activities will continue in different fields.

Oguzhan Ertugrul, the Turkish ambassador to Kabul, said he knew the living conditions and the security were the biggest problems in the country.

“Despite the negativities, no one should lose hope,” said Ertugrul, adding that Turkey would continue to stand with Afghanistan.

He said those who make good use of the opportunities provided by the Turkish Red Crescent could contribute to the livelihood of the family.

The project is carried out with the support of the Turkey’s Interior Ministry’s Directorate-General of Migration Management, Turkish Embassy in Kabul and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation.