Executive Summary for January 22nd

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the postponement of refugee returns from Bangladesh to Myanmar, the Turkish president saying that Syrians must go home as soon as possible and the BBC facing criticism over use of Rohingya extras in a drama.

Published on Jan. 22, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Rohingya Returns From Bangladesh Delayed Amid Welter of Excuses

The repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar has been delayed. The operation, due to begin on January 23, has been postponed, according to Bangladeshi officials.

The postponement came amid fears that refugees would be forced to return and officials cited a lack of transit centers and paperwork delays.

Some 650,000 refugees have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh but the two countries agreed a repatriation deal late last year. The agreement has been attacked as “fantasy land” by human rights campaigners.

Bangladesh’s refugee and repatriation commissioner said that returns process “has to be voluntary.”

David Mathieson, an expert on Rohingya issues, mocked the announcement: “It’s a fantasyland, make-believe world that both governments are in,” he told the Associated Press.

“Now you’re expecting them to come back, as if they’re in a conga line of joy after what you did to them?”

Myanmar is accused by the United Nations of “textbook ethnic cleansing” that some observers have called genocidal. Myanmar’s powerful military has denied the charges and insist it is battling an insurgency.

Sayed Noor, a member of the Rohingya minority who fled his village in Myanmar last August, said: “If they send us back forcefully we will not go.

“They will have to return all our wealth that they have looted and hold people accountable. They will have to compensate us. We came here because we are fighting for those things,” he said. “If we don’t get all of this, then what was the point of coming here?”

Erdogan Says Turkey’s 3.5 Million Syrian Refugees Must Go Home Soon

Turkey’s president said he wants to send back 3.5 million Syrian refugees as soon as possible. Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments as Turkey began an attack on a Kurdish enclave in Syria.

The ground and air assault against Afrin demonstrates the complex situation in Syria. The Kurdish militias in Afrin are U.S. allies but Erdogan says the area contains “nests” of terrorists.

“Hopefully, we will complete this operation in a very short time,” he said in a speech in the Turkish city of Bursa.

“The real issue here is to deliver Afrin to its real owners… we have 3.5 million Syrians in our lands” and that Turkey wanted “to send our Syrian brothers back to their own land as soon as possible.”

The Turkish incursion has drawn sharp criticism from its Western allies and there are reports of Syrians volunteering to join forces on both sides.

The incident is a reminder of Turkey’s leading role in hosting Syrian refugees and the E.U. has an agreement in place meant to prevent them crossing to Greece.

BBC Drama Criticized for Making Rohingya Extras Relive Trauma

British broadcaster the BBC has been criticized over alleged exploitation of Rohingya refugees. The scrutiny follows claims refugees were made to relive their trauma as extras in a drama production.

A report in British daily newspaper the Sun claimed that Rohingya were hired in Malaysia as extras for an episode of “Our Girl,” a popular drama about British army female medics.

The allegations center on claims the refugees were made to dig graves in a rubbish dump and wade rivers carrying small children.

Sources also told the tabloid that the refugees were “forced to relive their nightmares” and asked to take part in “horrific scenes.”

The BBC said in a statement that “all the supporting artists were contracted in the normal manner and at rates standard for work in Malaysia, including some Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia.”

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