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  • Women's Refugee Commission Responds to UNSC Meeting about Rohingya Repatriation

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    The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is meeting today to discuss plans to repatriate Rohingya refugees, following an announcement made by the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar last week. In August 2017, Myanmar security forces launched widespread and systematic attacks on civilians in Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan States, resulting in the largest and fastest-ever influx of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

    In light of today’s UNSC meeting, Joan Timoney, vice president, advocacy, of the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statement:

    “The Rohingya people, a stateless minority group in Myanmar, have suffered persecution, discrimination, and denial of basic rights for decades. The Women's Refugee Commission expresses grave concerns about a premature repatriation when the conditions that forced the Rohingya people to flee in the first place have not at all changed. Ensuring their right to safety, freedom from violence and persecution, right to citizenship, and freedom of movement is paramount.

    “The extreme levels of violence against Rohingya women and girls, many of whom have endured rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence by the Myanmar military, has been well documented by the UN.

    “Last year, WRC reported that in addition to women and girls, men and boys have also been subject to sexual violence, including through genital violence, penis amputations, and forced witnessing of sexual violence against family members.

    “Sending these survivors back to their attackers is unthinkable. The forced return of refugees would constitute a clear violation of the principle of non-refoulement. We call on the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that repatriation will only happen when it is safe, voluntary, and dignified.

    “We also urge the international community to meet its own responsibilities in ensuring the rights and lives of Rohingya and other minorities are protected.”

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