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Any Rohingya repatriations must be voluntary: refugees must be able to make a free and informed choice
Commenting on reports that the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar will begin on 22 August, Oxfam's Advocacy and Campaigns Manager for the Rohingya crisis, Elizabeth Hallinan, said: “It is paramount that Rohingya refugees can participate in decisions that are made about their lives and futures. They must be able to make a free and informed choice about whether to return to Myanmar. Above all, any repatriation must be voluntary.
“Oxfam remains concerned about human rights violations in Myanmar and hopes the Government of Myanmar will take this opportunity to recognize the equal rights of Rohingya people and to lift the heavy restrictions on their movement. Refugees long to return to their homes, but they tell us they fear going back without rights and justice.
"The Government of Bangladesh has firmly committed to ensuring returns only happen in conditions that are safe, voluntary and dignified. The international community needs to step up diplomatic pressure on Myanmar, while continuing to support Bangladesh to assist all those in need."
Oxfam is urging the Government of Myanmar to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need and grant equal rights to Rohingya people – including citizenship and lifting movement restrictions that prevent people from seeing a doctor or finding work.
In the last two years, Oxfam has helped more than 350,000 Rohingya people in Bangladesh and Myanmar. This includes providing clean water, vouchers for food and building infrastructure like roads and solar-powered lights in camps in Bangladesh.
Elizabeth Hallinan is available for interviews in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kai Tabacek | firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 7584 265 077
For updates please follow @Oxfam.