SITTWE, Rakhine State — More than 170 Rohingya refugees who have returned from Bangladesh to Rakhine State through unofficial channels have moved back home or been resettled in villages where they have relatives, according to Maungdaw District authorities.
Deputy district administrator U Ye Htoo said 177 Rohingya have been resettled in all, including 106 males and 71 females.
“Since April, 177 [Rohingya] have come back into the country. We’ve sent them to the villages of their closest relatives through the village administrations. For those who have homes, we have sent them back to their homes,” U Ye Htoo told The Irrawaddy.
They were among the 700,000 Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh to escape a military crackdown in northern Rakhine triggered by militant attacks on security posts in the area in August 2017.
Of the 177, 62 were arrested upon their return but granted amnesty and released on May 27 by the government, which reasoned that they did not know Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed to an official repatriation plan. Of the rest, 92 were rescued at sea from a capsized boat in June and 23 crossed the border over several months without being arrested.
“The people who came back this month are from Kyein Kyaung village. I heard they are currently staying in Maung Ni village and that the government and UN agencies have provided them with food,” U Anarwa, the administrator of Pantawpyin village in Maungdaw, told The Irrawaddy.
Though Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to a formal repatriation process months ago, it has not been used to return a single refugee to date.
“It is said that some 4,000 to 6,000 [Rohingya] will be repatriated, but we have not received any official letter about it,” said U Ye Htoo.
Authorities have issued National Verification Cards (NVCs) to the Rohingya returnees, while the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has provided them with food, he added.
NVCs have been issued in Rakhine since June 2016. The government said the cards have been issued to 6,097 males and 3,076 females in the state as of Jan. 3.
The Myanmar government has opened two camps along the border to take in returnees and a third to temporarily accommodate them until they are permanently resettled.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.