GENEVA: The UN rights chief yesterday urged Bangladesh to halt plans to repatriate more than 2,200 Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, amid reports of continued violations against the minority.
Bangladeshi authorities plan to begin returning Rohingya refugees, who have fled what the UN has called ethnic cleansing, to the Buddhist majority country from Thursday. But the prospect has created panic in the camps, prompting some families who were due to be among the first to be repatriated to flee, according to community leaders.
“We are witnessing terror and panic among those Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar who are at imminent risk of being returned to Myanmar against their will,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
“Forcibly expelling or returning refugees and asylum seekers to their home country would be a clear violation of the core legal principle of non-refoulement, which forbids repatriation where there are threats of persecution or serious risks to the life and physical integrity or liberty of the individuals,” she said. More than 725,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s western Rakhine state following a military crackdown from August last year, bringing with them stories of murders, rapes and torture. —Agencies