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UN: Rohingya still not allowed to return to Myanmar

UN: Rohingya still not allowed to return to Myanmar
From Al Jazeera - February 13, 2018

Rohingya refugees are still not allowed to return to Myanmar, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees has told the UN Security Council.

According to Filippo Grandi, "conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive" for the 668,000 Rohingya to return home.

The refugees fledto neighbouring Bangladesh after the Myanmarauthorities launched a violent crackdown in northern Rakhine state last August.

"The causes of their flight have not been addressed, and we have yet to see substantive progress on addressing the exclusion and denial of rights that has deepened over the last decades, rooted in their lack of citizenship," he said.

Grandi also saidthe office of the UNHCR lacks access to Rakhine, where hundreds of villages have been burned down by the Myanmar military.

"Humanitarian access, as you have heard, remains extremely restricted.UNHCRhas not had access to affected areas of the northern part of Rakhine state, beyond Maungdaw town, since August 2017, and our access in central Rakhine has also been curtailed," he said.

"UNHCR presence and access throughout the state are essential to monitor protection conditions, provide independent information to refugees, and accompany returns as and when they take place."

Grandi recognised the efforts put in by both the government and the people of Bangladesh to house the Rohingya refugees, but warned that conditions have to improve for the hundreds of thousands of refugees especially with monsoon season starting in March.

"We are now in a race against time as a major new emergency looms. We estimate that more than 100,000 refugees are living in areas prone to flooding or landslides. Tens of thousands of particularly vulnerable refugees need to be urgently relocated," Grandi said.

"Their lives are at grave risk."

After Grandi gave his recommendations to the Security Council, Nikki Haley, theUS ambassador to the UN,commended theUNhad so far failed in its response to the crisis in Myanmar.

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