UNHCR chief arrives Monday to deal with the issue
Monday, 26 May 2008

Rohingya crisis

The UN's refugee agency chief António Guterres will arrive in Dhaka Monday on a two-day visit to primarily deal with Rohingya crisis, reports bdnews24.com.

"During his two-day visit, Guterres will hold talks with government officials to find a solution to some 27,000 Rohingya refugees," a statement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Dhaka said Sunday.

The UNHCR chief is expected to pass a day at a camp and talk to the refugees, the statement said.

The refugees have been languishing in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar for 16 years, as they are not willing to go back to homeland Myanmar, fearing persecution by the military junta.

Bangladesh is concerned since it often struggles to maintain law and order in the camps in the coastal district. But a host country cannot force the refugees for repatriation because of the UN-backed practices. They can be repatriated only if they voluntarily return to their homeland.

In the early 1990s, a huge number of refugees flooded Bangladesh as the military regime in Myanmar carried out a massive crackdown on the Muslims living in the Arakan state of the Southeast Asian country.

The UNHCR and the government jointly registered some 2.58 lakh as refugees in 1992.

Apart from the Muslim Rohingyas, there are hundreds of Buddhist Myanmar refugees who mostly live in Dhaka and support the struggle of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Not only Bangladesh but some other neighbouring countries, including Thailand, have sheltered refugees who have fled alleged persecution by the Myanmar junta.

Currently some 27,000 Rohingyas live in Bangladesh's camps while the rest returned to Myanmar under the UNHCR sponsorship. But there are some 10,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees without water supplies and basic sanitation facilities. They have shelter in a reserved forest in Cox's Bazar district.

Bangladesh has refused to entertain a request by the UNHCR to give the unregistered Rohingyas a refugee status.

If they are recognised as refugees, they would get better facilities for living along with rations and other basics.

Bangladesh says it cannot encourage illegal crossing of Myanmar people to Bangladesh territory.

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