680,000 Rohingya refugees have been told they can go back home — but they’re afraid to go back. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyan Muslims fled Myanmar because of a violent crackdown against them. They’ve been crossing the border into Bangladesh in droves since August 2017.
As part of the deadly crackdown, Myanmar’s military burned down Rohingyan homes, raped women or girls and murdered many. The UN called is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Because of a recent deal struck with Myanmar and Bangladesh, Rohingyans are being told to return to their homes. But this doesn’t mean that their homes have become any safer. Since Bangladesh is predominantly Buddhist, they historically make the mostly-Muslim Rohingyans into pariahs. They’re constantly marginalized and frequently denied citizenship.
The refugees themselves also had no part in the agreement between the two nations. The deal will entail sending many of them home over the next two years. But many wonder if they will even have homes to return to, or if they will be treated any differently than when they left.
The UN’s Refugee Agency was also not involved. Organized repatriation agreements typically involve the country of origin, the host country and the UN’s Refugee Agency. All of these variables beg the question if anything changes for the Rohingya refugees because of the deal.