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Japan's foreign minister visits Myanmar Rohingya villages

17 January 2018

"The vaccination of children in the Rohingya camps and nearby areas demonstrates the health sector's commitment to protecting people, particularly children, against deadly diseases", said Bardan Jung Rana, a World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh, in a statement.

"Seven people were severely burnt".

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration said their offers to help with the process have not been taken up by the two countries.

The U.N. says almost 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the western state to Bangladesh since the bloody violence erupted last August.

Most Rohingya refugees, however, say they will not return to Myanmar, where their villages in the State of Rakhine have been torched, according to AFP.

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Aid workers have warned that flimsy tents and bamboo and tarpaulin shelters set up to house the refugees are potential fire traps. "I will go back again only if our rights and safety are guaranteed - forever".

The Rohingya are reviled in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and described as "Bengalis" - or Muslim interlopers from Bangladesh.

The UN and rights groups have urged Myanmar to ensure their safe and voluntary return.

The UNHCR says refugees it has surveyed want guarantees that worldwide agencies will be involved in overseeing the process and more information about the security situation in their home areas. They can accuse us later, they can arrest us.

While many Rohingya say they want to go back to Myanmar, most of the more than a dozen who spoke to Reuters said they were scared to do so now.

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"We have been clear in our condemnation of the awful atrocities that have occurred in Rakhine State; we have now raised Burma five times at the UN Security Council to keep the global community's attention focused on this crisis and we continue to engage with the Burmese authorities at the most senior levels to urge the inhumane violence to end. We will then ask the persons, verified by Myanmar, whether they are interested in returning to Rakhine", Chowdhury told BenarNews.

The military offensive for which the refugees fled was prompted by Rohingya insurgent attacks on police and army posts. Myanmar rejects that, saying troops did not target civilians.

He said the repatriation process would cost "millions of dollars" but funding details had not yet been agreed and were not expected to be discussed at today's meeting.

Next week's meeting in Naypyidaw follows an announcement by Myanmar this week that housing for 5,000 returning Rohingya was ready and the government was waiting for Bangladesh to send lists of refugees who were eligible for repatriation.

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Japan's foreign minister visits Myanmar Rohingya villages