Few Muslim Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have responded to plans for their repatriation to Myanmar, and all who did said they don’t want to go back, officials from the U.N. refugee agency and Bangladesh’s government said Tuesday.
Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, Abul Kalam, said only 21 families out of 1,056 selected for repatriation starting Thursday were willing to be interviewed by officials about whether they wish to return. He said all the families said they would not go back.
He said the mood in the sprawling camps in Cox’s Bazar where about 1 million Rohingya refugees are sheltered was calm and cordial.
“There has been no chaos like in the past. They have gone to the officials for the interviews and talked freely. This is very positive, they now understand the situation better,” he said.
“We have tomorrow, I am hopeful that many other families will face the interviews,” he said.
Louise Donovan, a spokeswoman for UNHCR, said in an email that a second interview would be conducted with refugees who agree to go back in “intention surveys” like the ones conducted Tuesday.
Some Rohingya interviewed Tuesday said they would not return unless Myanmar gives them citizenship. Myanmar has refused to recognize them as citizens, even though many of their families have lived there for generations, and insists on calling them Bengalis.