A Myanmar delegation is expected to conclude its five-day visit to Rohingya refugee camps along the Bangladeshi border today. The
A Myanmar delegation is expected to conclude its five-day visit to Rohingya refugee camps along the Bangladeshi border today.
The purpose of their visit was to assess Rohingya refugees for a pilot program aiming to repatriate them to Myanmar. The program has spaces for 1,140 people with 711 people accepted thus far. Around a million Rohingya refugees are living in unsanitary, fire-prone camps along the Bangladeshi border—most having fled there following a Myanmar military crackdown in 2017.
However, the program is unlikely to see mass repatriations in the short-to-medium term. While Myanmar signed a 2017 agreement with Bangladesh promising repatriation, no substantive efforts have followed. Indeed, Myanmar’s military junta still refuses to officially recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens inside their overwhelmingly Buddhist state. Furthermore, there has been nothing to suggest that the government will guarantee the safety of refugees should they return. Thus, even if the program was to be expanded beyond the pilot, it is highly unlikely many refugees would be willing to return to Myanmar.
However, the deteriorating conditions inside the refugee camps—recently exacerbated by cuts in food rations—will likely continue to motivate Rohingya refugees to seek shelter elsewhere—including undertaking dangerous sea journeys to other countries in the region.