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Bangladesh Rejects Myanmar's Rohingya Repatriation Claim

FILE - A Rohingya refugee boy carries water in the Kutupalong refugee camp, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 22, 2018.
FILE - A Rohingya refugee boy carries water in the Kutupalong refugee camp, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 22, 2018.

The Bangladeshi government has rejected Myanmar's claim that it has repatriated a family of Rohingya refugees.

Abul Kalam, the relief and repatriation commissioner of Bangladesh, said the family had never crossed the border into Bangladesh.

"This is in no way a repatriation, rather it is propaganda," Kalam told Reuters Sunday.

Asaduzzaman Khan, Bangladesh's home minister, said Myanmar's announcement was "nothing but a farce."

Rights groups said the move amounts to a publicity stunt because security concerns for the returning Rohingyas have not been addressed.

The United Nations refugee group said Friday the conditions in Myanmar "are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable. The responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the Myanmar authorities and these must go beyond the preparation of physical infrastructure to facilitate logistical arrangements."

Myanmar said in a statement Saturday that the family of five had completed the repatriation process and is temporarily staying with relatives in Maungdaw town, near the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The statement said the family has been issued a national verification card. However, the card does not identify them as Myanmar citizens.

Rohingya leaders have rejected the cards, saying they want full rights and citizenship for Rohingyas who have faced persecution in Myanmar for decades.

An estimated 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar's northern Rakhine state for neighboring Bangladesh. The exodus began in August after attacks by Rohingya militants on state security forces led to military reprisals that the U.N. says were executed in a well-organized, systematic and coordinated manner and amount to a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar denies the ethnic cleansing charge, saying its troops targeted Rohingya militants.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are sheltering at Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh. They have given harrowing accounts of Myanmar security forces killing and raping Rohingyas while looting and burning their villages in Rakhine state.

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