Skepticism as Myanmar announces return of first Rohingya family

Myanmar says it has repatriated first Rohingya family despite UN warnings

Myanmar says it has repatriated first Rohingya family despite UN warnings

Rights groups are expressing scepticism over the announcement that Myanmar has repatriated the first Rohingya family, despite warnings from the UN.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military imposed a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya living in Rakhine State last August in what has been described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" - an accusation Myanmar denies.

Fleeing Rohingya refugees have reported suffering including killings, sexual assaults and arson on a large scale, according to Reuters.

The move comes despite warnings from the United Nations and other rights groups that a mass repatriation of Rohingya would be premature, as Myanmar has yet to address the systematic legal discrimination and persecution the minority has faced for decades. According to the United Nations chief, the assaults were allegedly perpetrated by the Myanmar Armed Forces, known as the Tatmadaw in connivance with the local militias, in the course of military "clearance" operations in October 2016 and August 2017.

Earlier this month, Myanmar sentenced seven soldiers to prison with hard labor for their involvement in participating murder in Rakhine State in September 2017.

No further information has been given about other possible repatriations.

The stateless Muslim minority has been massing in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh since the Myanmar army launched a ruthless campaign against the community in northern Rakhine state last August.

The Myanmar government announced in a Facebook post on Saturday that a family of five had returned to the country from the border area between Bangladesh and Myanmar, where thousands of refugees are holed up.

The Rohingya exodus has created a humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh, a small, poor country that is one of the most densely populated in the world.

Photos posted by the government showed one man, two women, a young girl and a boy receiving the ID cards and getting health checks.

It is being said, the family members were issued National Verification Cards (NVCs) upon entering Myanmar.

The Rohingya are reviled by many in the Buddhist-majority country, where they are branded as illegal "Bengali" immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their deep roots in Rakhine state.

A newly arrived Rohingya refugee mother feeds her daughter at a transit camp in Nayaprar refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Bangladesh has given Burma a list of 8,000 refugees to begin the process.

A Rohingya community leader in the camp also confirmed the family's return.

"Conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable", the UNHCR said. Many refuse to return without a guarantee of basic rights and citizenship.

Several boats with Rohingya people from parts of violence-torn Rakhine state have left Myanmar in recent months.

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