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Since August past year, more than half a million Rohingya have undertaken perilous journeys to Bangladesh to flee persecution and violence in Myanmar. The family chose to go home despite warnings from the United Nations that conditions in the country are not right for refugees to head back.

According to UN officials, almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh from Rakhine to escape a military crackdown since August, amid reports of murder, rape and arson by Myanmar troops and Buddhist vigilantes which the United Nations has likened to "ethnic cleansing".

More than 670,000 Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar since last August, joining an estimated 200,000 Rohingya who have sought shelter in Bangladesh, arriving in waves over the past decades. The United Nations and the USA have described the army crackdown as "ethnic cleansing".

The United States and UN have described the Myanmar military operation as ethnic cleansing.

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.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in December to begin repatriating them in January, but there were concerns among aid workers and Rohingya that they would be forced to return and face unsafe conditions in Myanmar.

According to the Rohingya Blogger, however, the individuals in the photos are the family members of the administrator of Taung Pyo Latya, the designated entry point for returning refugees.

A Facebook post on the official page of Myanmar's Information Committee appears to show the family getting health checks and receiving packages of rice, mosquito netting, and blankets.

The post did not mention plans for further returnees expected in the near future.

Bill Frelick, director of Human Rights Watch's (HRW) refugee rights programme, also recently called Myanmar's plan "wishful thinking".




"They were not under our jurisdiction, therefore, we can not confirm whether there would be more people waiting to go back (to Myanmar)", he told AFP.

The United Nations has warned that a mass repatriation of Rohingya would be premature.

Myanmar says it has repatriated the first Rohingya refugees from among almost 700,000 who fled a crackdown in the country past year despite warnings from the United Nations that it is not yet safe to return. "The responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the Myanmar authorities, and these must go beyond the preparation of physical infrastructure to facilitate logistical arrangements", the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement.The comments come amid the repatriation of the first Rohingya family back to Myanmar.

Myanmar officials could not be reached for more details.

NVCs are part of the government's ongoing effort to register Rohingyas, although it falls short of offering them citizenship.

"Another practical measure would be to ease restrictions on movement for the internally displaced persons encamped in the central townships of Rakhine state, which would also help to build confidence among refugees in Bangladesh", it added.

Andrea Giorgetta of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) told AFP that Myanmar's announcement of repatriation is "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine State".

"How can they claim it to be repatriation since the Rohingya family was not taken back from the camps within Bangladesh".

Win Myat Aye, Myanmar's social welfare minister, made the comments in Dhaka late on Thursday after visiting one of the Bangladesh camps struggling to provide for some of the one million to have fled the country.

A Rohingya leader, Abdur Rahim, said at least eight rape victims were among those who met with him. Rahim said the group presented 13 demands for the government to meet for their return to Myanmar.


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