The Bangladeshi and Myanmar authorities are set to start returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar on Thursday, despite evidence that refugees are afraid to return.
Some 42 NGOs working with the refugees – including ActionAid – this week warned that the return of refugees to Myanmar now would be "dangerous and premature." Reports today suggested that dozens of families who were to be repatriated have gone into hiding.
Commenting, Mike Noyes – Director of Policy, Advocacy and Programmes at ActionAid UK – said:
“It’s deeply concerning that repatriation plans are going ahead. Rohingya refugees are terrified of what might happen to them on return – and yet again their voices are being completely ignored. Almost all of the Rohingya women and girls ActionAid have been working with have survived appalling levels of sexual violence. Many mothers witnessed their children being killed, and saw their homes destroyed. They now fear both repeat attacks and a reliving of their trauma. It would be irresponsible and inhumane to send them back, against their will, with no guarantee of safety.
"The international community – including the UK – must intervene now to ensure that any repatriation of the refugees is strictly informed, voluntary, dignified and safe. It's clear that these circumstances do not exist right now. We cannot let this happen to Rohingya women, who have suffered so much – and who are saying clearly that they need safety, justice and some control over their future."
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Notes to editors
1. ActionAid is an international charity that works with women and girls living in poverty. Our dedicated local staff are helping end violence against women and girls and changing lives, for good. We won’t stop until women and girls are out of danger, out of poverty and on track to create the future they want.
2. More information about ActionAid’s work with Rohingya refugees can be found here.