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Rohingya refugees still fleeing from Burma to Bangladesh: UNHCR

A Rohingya refugee child stands on a hill above the camp for widows and orphans inside the Balukhali camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on 5 December 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Rohingya refugees continue to flee Burma for Bangladesh even though both countries set up a timetable last month to allow them to start to return home, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

The number of refugees appears to have slowed. 625,000 have arrived since 25 August. 30,000 came last month and around 1,500 arrived last week, UNHCR said

“The refugee emergency in Bangladesh is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world,” said deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements. “Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are not in place to enable a safe and sustainable return … refugees are still fleeing.”

“Most have little or nothing to go back to. Their homes and villages have been destroyed. Deep divisions between communities remain unaddressed and human access is inadequate,” she said.

Bangladesh and Burma agreed on 23 November to start the return of Rohingya within two months. It did not say when the process would be complete.

Burma’s security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, according to the top UN human rights official this week. Mainly Buddhist Burma denies the Muslim Rohingya are its citizens and considers them foreigners.

UNHCR would make a fresh appeal to donors for funds after the end of February in next year, Kelly said.