The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) issued a statement on March 19 denying it was involved in a pilot project between Bangladesh and Burma to repatriate Rohingya refugees. Reuters reported regime officials visited Cox’s Bazar on March 15 to facilitate the repatriation process and meet with Rohingya refugees. A list was compiled of 1,140 names to be repatriated as a part of this pilot project. The UNHCR reaffirmed that the conditions in Burma are not suitable for any repatriation.
“[The] UNHCR will continue to work with Bangladesh and Myanmar [Burma] to ensure that Rohingya refugees maintain the right to return when they choose to do so, based on a fully informed and voluntary decision. [It] will also support efforts to create conditions that would be conducive to the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees in Myanmar’s Rakhine State,” a UNHCR press release stated. Nearly one million Rohingya reside in refugee camps in Bangladesh after a Burma Army crackdown in 2017 that many countries have labeled genocide. According to UN estimates, at least 348 Rohingya died at sea last year trying to escape the harsh conditions of life in Burma and Bangladesh.