Dhaka, Aug 18 (IANS): The repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh to Myanmar is still not safe, according to Michelle Bachelet, chief of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"Now, Myanmar's internal political situation is very complicated, there is a lot of instability, there are lots of conflicts... Many livelihoods are destroyed, many homes were burnt and so on," dpa news agency quoted Bachelet as saying in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The February 1, 2021, coup in Myanmar brought the military back to power.
More than 1 million Rohingya Muslims have been living in sprawling refugee camps in the south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar after they fled violent persecution in Myanmar.
Nearly 750,000 of them crossed the border after the Buddhist-majority neighbour launched a crackdown on the ethnic group in August 2017.
Bachelet, who on Wednesday wrapped up her four-day trip to Bangladesh during which she visited the squalid refugee settlements, expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation at the camps.
The refugees told her they feel insecure because of incidents of kidnapping and killings inside the camp, she told a news conference, citing last year's killing of a popular Rohingya leader.
"They want to go back (to Myanmar) with basic enabling conditions... It must be voluntary, we cannot force them to back," said Bachelet, who talked to a number of women, religious leaders and young refugees at the camps.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during a meeting with Bachelet, said Myanmar must take its nationals back home as per an agreement signed in November 2019.
Earlier attempts at repatriation failed twice in 2018 and 2019 amid the refugee's lack of trust in the Myanmar government.