Rohingyas mark anniversary as ‘black day’; community sees little hope for return

25 Août, 2018, 14:37 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A Rohingya Muslim child holding an umbrella while under the rain at Shwe Zar village is seen during a government-organized visit for journalists in Maungdaw township Rakhine state

Thousands held peaceful marches and attended rallies chanting "We want justice from the United Nations".

The camps exploded in size previous year when Myanmar's army launched a wave of anti-Rohingya attacks about August 25, and some 700,000 Rohingya began pouring across the border.

Rohingya refugees fled the country, one year ago.

As the day drew close, Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi camps in Cox Bazar district vowed to mark the "black day" in their lives with prayers, speeches and songs. Kutupalong and Balukhali mega camp, known as the Kutupalong-Balukhali extension camp, is one of the largest refugee camps in the world, hosting about 600 000 people.

Thousands of Rohingya in Myanmar are estimated to have been killed in the military response to ARSA's attacks on police posts last August. Waves of Rohingya fled by foot or boat to Bangladesh in an exodus unprecedented in speed and scale. Many brought horrific stories of rape, torture and villages burned to the ground.

The Rohingya say they will not return without a guarantee of their safety, citizenship and compensation for homes and land torched.

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The army maintains that their reaction was proportionate to the terrorist threat posed by ARSA, a stance reiterated on Tuesday by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who blamed the group for the crisis and spoke in praise of the military.

"We want them (Myanmar) to recognise us as Rohingya". The district which became home to one of the world's largest refugee settlement is still under vast pressure as the latest entrants into the camps furthered the number of refugees in the area to almost a million.

"This one year is just the beginning of many more to follow", he told AFP.

The Rohingya and aid agencies are most anxious about the uncertain future of the refugees, who are stateless and seemingly unwanted in Bangladesh while conditions in their Rakhine homeland remain risky.

Access to healthcare and freedom of movement remain out of reach for the Rohingya left in Rakhine.

The UN and global rights groups say conditions are not ready for their return. "It may be decades until they can safely return to Myanmar, if ever", Medecins Sans Frontieres head of mission in Bangladesh, Pavlo Kolovos, said in a statement.

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