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Christian charity denounces any forced return of refugees to Myanmar

by Eno Adeogun

World Vision and 14 International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) have issued a twelve-point declaration calling for the refugees' guaranteed safety and rights.

Their declaration follows an announcement by the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar on 23rd November that the repatriation of refugees would begin within the next two months.

The INGO declaration states: "We uphold the fundamental right of refugees to voluntarily return to their place of origin.

"However, we urge that the rights, safety and protection of returnees must be guaranteed before any returns process commences."

The declaration insists that refugees that decide to return without coercion must be allowed to go back to their original homes or land, or to a place of their choice.

It calls for any confiscated land and property to be returned and for refugees to be fairly compensated for any that was destroyed or lost.

World Vision

An estimated 625,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Myanmar for camps in Bangladesh since late August, when the Burma Army began a major offensive against Rohingya civilians.

The charities have also called for:

  • an independent investigation carried out into allegations of human rights violations
  • legal action to be taken against perpetrators
  • humanitarian agencies to be granted unfettered access to all affected populations
  • journalists and human rights observers to get unfettered access to Rakhine state
World Vision

Suresh Bartlett, National Director of World Vision Myanmar said: "Regardless of what side of the border they are on, the humanitarian needs of these refugees will remain urgent.

"They could even increase if returns aren't safe and voluntary.

"Everyone deserves full and equal rights, and our priority remains firm: children - the most vulnerable in crises - must be protected from all forms of violence."

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