The UN’s independent investigator on Myanmar says it’s not safe for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to return because Myanmar has failed to dismantle its “system of persecution” of Rohingyas.
Yanghee Lee said in a report to the General Assembly circulated Friday that living conditions for the remaining Rohingya in northern Rakhine state “remain dreadful.”
The Rohingya can’t leave their villages and earn a living, she said, making them dependent on humanitarian aid whose access “has been so heavily diminished that their basic means for survival has been affected.”
“While this situation persists, it is not safe or sustainable for refugees to return,” said the UN special rapporteur appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
Lee also expressed concern that a household-counting exercise in Rohingya villages “is an effort to erase the Rohingya from administrative records and make their return less possible.”
She said the government’s requirement that any refugee who returns must be issued “a national verification card” is not a solution to citizenship for the Rohingya.
Rohingya Muslims demand that Myanmar give them citizenship, safety, and their own land and homes they left behind. The Buddhist-majority nation has refused to recognize Rohingya as citizens or even as one of its ethnic groups, rendering them stateless.