A United Nations Children’s Fund official said that attacks on Rohingya Muslims were still occurring in Myanmar, AP reported. It is not safe for refugee Rohingya Muslims to return to their homes yet, UNICEF deputy executive director Justin Forsyth said. He was speaking at the Kutupalong refugee camp.

Nearly seven lakh Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, after a militant attack on security forces resulted in a violent crackdown. The repatriation process, which was meant to begin on January 23 and last two years, did not start as Bangladesh had said the process of compiling and verifying the list of people to be sent back was incomplete, transit camps where they will stay were not yet ready and a number of other issues remained unresolved.

The official said that many refugees want to return home. “The situation is not safe for the returns to begin,” Forsyth said. “I spoke to one young woman who had been on the phone to her aunt in Rakhine in Myanmar. And they were attacking villages even today.”

Meanwhile, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson resigned from Myanmar’s advisory panel on the Rohingya crisis in protest against Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Richardson, who used to be a close friend of the Myanmar leader, said the panel was being used to “whitewash” the situation and accused Suu Kyi of lacking “moral leadership”.

The crisis

Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar. The country’s de-facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticised for failing to stand up for more than 1 million stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.

The United Nations and the United States called it an “ethnic cleansing” of the Muslim minority community. The Human Rights Watch said the Myanmar military massacred people and raped, arbitrarily arrested and set ablaze hundreds of predominantly Rohingya villages in Rakhine.