Rohingya refugee children attend more than 1,200 temporary schools run by humanitarian agencies. There are more than half a million refugee children in Bangladesh. (Altaf Qadri/AP Photo/Aug 27, 2018)

Forced repatriation of Rohingya condemned

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World Vision Canada and 40 other humanitarian and civil society agencies are expressing concerns about plans to send more than 2,200 Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar on November 15, 2018. Over 700,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh after Myanmar’s military raped, murdered and tortured Rohingya and burned their villages.

Children are afraid

Canadian Fred Witteveen of World Vision Bangladesh is quoted in a news release as saying “refugee children are hearing talk about the repatriation and they’re very afraid…Most children here have witnessed or experienced horrific violence as they fled from Myanmar and their memories are still painfully fresh. They are asking out staff questions about their future, and we don’t have answers for them.”

Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh are uncertain about their future. (Altaf Qadri/AP Photo/Aug 26, 2018)

Repatriation must be voluntary, insist organizations

The organizations are calling on the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure that children are protected, and that any repatriation is “conducted in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner.”

World Vision also urges the government of Canada to continue supporting the rights of the refugees. Funding form Canada enables World Vision to operate five child-friendly spaces. The humanitarian organization has also delivered other assistance such as child protection, nutrition, water and sanitation programs.

UN expert too is concerned

Independent UN human rights expert Yanghee Lee too says she is concerned there is a lack of guarantees the refugees would not face new persecution if they return to Myanmar. She has repeatedly stated that conditions are not ripe for a safe repatriation and she is urging a stop to what he calls “rush plans” for repatriation.

With files from Canadian Press.

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