UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said today that it is still not safe for Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar, nearly five years after a crackdown that prompted their mass exodus to neighboring Bangladesh.
“Unfortunately, the current situation on the other side of the border shows that the conditions for return do not exist,” Bachelet told reporters in Dhaka.
About 750,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s military crackdown and sought asylum in 2017 in neighboring Bangladesh, where at least 100,000 refugees, victims of earlier violence, were already.
The Rohingya live crammed into camps in unsanitary conditions in shacks made of burlap, sheet metal and bamboo and refuse to return to Buddhist-majority Myanmar until they are granted civil rights.
“Repatriation should take place in a voluntary and dignified manner, only when there are safe and sustainable conditions in Myanmar,” Bachelet added.
Myanmar is ruled by a military junta after the overthrow of the civilian government last year.
Bachelet, 70, is on a four-day visit to Bangladesh before her term as UN human rights chief ends at the end of the month.