Bangladesh: Rohingya refugees returns must be safe, voluntary and dignified

Call comes as Amnesty Secretary General meets Bangladesh Prime Minister

Looming monsoon season will put Rohingya lives at risk in Cox’s Bazar camps

Amnesty International called on the government of Bangladesh to uphold its commitment that Rohingya refugees are only returned in conditions that are safe, voluntary and dignified.

In a meeting with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, acknowledged the generosity that the country had shown nearly a million Rohingya refugees who were forced out of their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State by crimes against humanity committed by the Myanmar military.

“At a time when many states have callously turned their backs on people fleeing persecution, Bangladesh has shown enormous generosity by opening its doors to nearly 700,000 refugees,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“This act of generosity has earned the country tremendous goodwill, and we hope that Bangladesh will stand by its commitment to support Rohingya refugees until it is possible for them to return in safe, voluntary and dignified conditions.”

Salil Shetty also reaffirmed Amnesty International’s position that the Myanmar military must be held accountable for the crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya.

While visiting refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district, Salil Shetty met with several refugees who recounted the horrors visited on them, as well as details of how earlier campaigns of violence by the Myanmar military had repeatedly forced them to seek refuge across the border, in Bangladesh.

Noting efforts to improve conditions in the camps, Amnesty International urged the Bangladeshi government to enhance its efforts ahead of the looming monsoon season, when many refugees will be at risk of mudslides and other hazards associated with heavy rains.

Rohingya children, who have been denied opportunities to pursue their education ever since they began arriving in the Cox’s Bazar district in August 2017, also require major attention.

“Bangladesh cannot be left to deal with this crisis alone. The international community must continue to support the country to host Rohingya refugees for as long as is required,” said Salil Shetty.

“At the same time, world leaders must also press for accountability for the horrific crimes that were committed against the Rohingya, so that they may get the justice they deserve and the security that they need.”