Satellite images show Myanmar preparations for Rohingya return

Satellite images show Myanmar preparations for Rohingya return

Agency News

Dhaka, Jul 24 : Myanmar has "minimal preparation" to support a safe, dignified, and sustainable return of oppressed Rohingya refugees taking shelter in neighboring Bangladesh, according to a think tank report released Wednesday based on satellite analysis.

"Our research does not support assertions that conditions are in place to support a safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to Rakhine State. Satellite analysis shows minimal preparation for a return of half a million refugees," a report by Anadolu agency quoted the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as saying.

The institute's International Cyber Policy Centre has combined open-source data with the collection and analysis of new satellite imagery to assess the current status of settlements in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state which were burned, damaged or destroyed in 2017, the report said.

Their research mapped the current status of 392 Rohingya settlements identified by the UN as damaged or destroyed during the 2017 crackdown and found more than 320 settlements with no sign of reconstruction, according to key findings of the report. “The preparations that are being made raise significant concerns about the conditions under which returning Rohingya would be expected to live”, it said.

The report stressed that the ongoing violence, instability, disruption of the Internet and communications technologies and the lack of information about the security situation in Rakhine all add to these concerns. Based on the satellite images provided by the UN Operational Satellite Applications Program, the think tank claimed they also found new proof of crackdowns as late as 2019, in addition to around 60 settlements which were subject to new demolition in 2018.

The report urged the international community to discuss the best path towards a safe, dignified and sustainable future for Rohingya refugees.

Persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012. According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million. Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added. (UNI)