FCO Minister statement on Rohingya Repatriation to Burma

An aerial view of the Hla Phoe Khaung transit camp for returning Rohingya

It is unusual for leaders in the 10-nation group to publicly criticize each other.

He said the issue of Rohingya had come up during a working dinner among the leaders but the main sentiment was a desire to resolve the problem.

The two discussed the current situation on the ground in Rakhine, and the need for security and development. Still, Aung San Suu Kyi seemed put off by Pence's approach and the resulting news coverage only highlights her fall from grace and the end of her reputation as a human rights leader. On Monday, she was stripped of Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience award for the "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for". "And I'm sure you will say the same of yours, that you understand your own country better than anybody else does", she said.

In response, Aung San Suu Kyi said her government is "in a better position to explain to you what is happening and how we see things panning out".

"They had a very candid exchange of views on that", a senior White House official said.

The official did not say how Suu Kyi responded.

United Nations officials have urged Bangladesh to move cautiously on plans to repatriate more than 2,200 of the Rohingya refugees to Burma, saying such a move would endanger their lives.

The long-planned repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh back to Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship, is set to begin this week.

"But the ultimate success of the initiative still depended on the "voluntariness" of the refugees' decision to return", the official said.

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According to an agreement between the two countries, 2,260 Rohingyas of 485 families from Jamtoli refugee shelter at Ukhia and Teknaf's Unchiprang shelter in Cox's Bazar will be repatriated in 15 days, with 150 per day.

Bachelet's office said it continues to receive reports of rights violations in Rakhine state, "which include allegations of killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests".

Forcibly returning or expelling refugees and asylum seekers to their home country would violate global law that forbids it to places where returnees face threats of persecution or their lives would be endangered, she said.

After numerous delays, the first significant group of Rohingya - some 2,000 strong - is due to return to Myanmar on November 15 as part of a repatriation deal signed with Bangladesh a year ago. But it didn't call for a halt to the repatriation plans.

Myanmar authorities say they have verified the identities of 4,000 Rohingya to be returned, but no one quite knows who is on that list.

The UK has consistently emphasized that the repatriation of any Rohingya refugees to Burma must be voluntary, safe, dignified, sustainable and uphold their human rights.

Canada is raising concerns over reports that Rohingya refugees will soon return to Myanmar - the country in which they have been targets of what has been officially declared a genocide.

Myanmar says its operations in Rakhine were a legitimate response to attacks on security forces by Rohingya insurgents in August a year ago.

"These women, men and children would be sent back into the Myanmar military's grasp with no protection guarantees, to live alongside those who torched their homes and whose bullets they fled", Nicholas Bequelin from the rights group in a statement.


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