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Bangladesh ditches repatriation plans for Rohingya refugees as no-one is ‘willing to go back’

Around 1,000 Rohingya Rohingya refugees protest against returning to Myanmar at the Unchiprang camp

BANGLADESH’S Refugee Commissioner Abul Kalan said today that plans to repatriate 700,000 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar had to be scrapped because no-one was “willing to go back home now.”

The announcement was made after around 1,000 Rohingya refugees protested against returning to Myanmar. “[We] can’t force them to go,” Mr Kalan said, but the country will continue to try to “motivate them so it happens.”

At the Unchiprang camp, one of the refugee settlements near Cox's Bazaar, another Bangladeshi refugee official implored the Rohingya to return home over a loudspeaker.

"We have arranged everything for you. We have six buses here, we have trucks, we have food. We want to offer everything to you. If you agree to go, we'll take you to the border, to the transit camp," he said.

"We won't go!" hundreds of voices chanted in reply.

Yesterday, the United Nations warned against the Rohingyas’ repatriation to Myanmar, saying their return would “throw them back into the cycle of human rights violations.”

Bangladesh says it has worked with the UN refugee agency to compile lists of people willing to return to Myanmar.

At the Jamtoli refugee camp, 25-year-old Setara said she and her two children, ages four and seven, were on a repatriation list, but her parents were not.

She said she had never asked to return to Myanmar and that she had sent her children to a school run by aid workers this morning as usual.

“They killed my husband. Now I live here with my parents,” Setara said. “I don’t want to go back.”

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