United Nations rights chief urges halt to Rohingya repatriation plan

A Rohingya man at the Jamtoli camp in Bangladesh

A Rohingya man at the Jamtoli camp in Bangladesh

"They (the Myanmar authorities) are going to keep people in camps", he said.

The prospect has created panic in the camps, prompting some families who were due to be among the first to be repatriated to flee, community leaders said. The situation remained tense in camps overnight.

But by late Wednesday, confusion grew over whether it would start.

And last week, over 20 individuals on the list told Reuters they would refuse to return to Rakhine, as they were terrified.

New Zealand is offering to help Myanmar resolve the crisis involving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. Refugees were not consulted, and it remains unclear if they consented to their names being on the list for repatriation.

"I will not go".

A visible increase in the presence of Bangladeshi security forces was reported at the teeming camps inside Bangladesh on Wednesday, prompting fears that potential returnees may face pressure to leave.

"I stayed back to guard my valuables", he said.

"It is not happening tomorrow as nobody wants to go back", said one of the sources.

The Bangladesh government declined to comment. The US, however, is "anxious" to see a safe return, he said. Please don't send us back. "We have our land, we have our homes", he said.

Another community leader, Dil Mohammad, said the situation in Myanmar was not yet conducive for the refugees' return.

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It said returning Rohingya would stay at repatriation camps for two days and receive food and clothing before moving on to transit camps.

He also said that the repatriation process could also be deferred from Thursday if deemed necessary. "Nobody can claim today that the security in Rakhine is so well established that people can return safely".

Vice President Mike Pence had strong words for Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a regional summit being held in Singapore, calling out her country's brutal military campaign against minority Rohingya Muslims and the imprisonment of two prominent journalists.

More than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the Buddhist majority's western Rakhine state in a military crackdown from August a year ago.

Pence told Suu Kyi that he wanted to hear about progress in resolving the continued persecution of the Rohingya in the country's northern Rakhine state - an army-led crackdown that the United Nations has labeled ethnic cleansing.

It is Myanmar's responsibility to improve conditions in the restive Rakhine region, it said.

However, calls for the refugees to return quickly to Myanmar are premature.

Bachelet stressed that "the human rights violations committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar amount to the worst atrocities, including crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide".

"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".

"They are now citizens, they play a full role in the politics of the country, they are free they are not detained because of race or any thing like that". They have also been denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

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