On 14 November I released a public statement expressing deep concern at reports that returns of Rohingya refugees to Burma were imminent. I called on Bangladesh and Burma not to return any refugees until the conditions were in place for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable returns that uphold human rights. I am pleased that no repatriations began on 15 November, but I remain concerned that such repatriations might commence before appropriate conditions are in place. I agree with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that the conditions for safe and dignified returns do not yet exist. Neither is the access in Burma required for necessary independent monitoring by UN agencies in place.
I contacted Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Ali on 15 November to welcome the fact that repatriations had not taken place and received his assurance that the Government of Bangladesh remained committed to the principle of voluntary returns with UNHCR monitoring.
Previously, I spoke to Bangladesh Minister of State Shahriar Alam and Burmese Minister for International Cooperation Kyaw Tin on 1 November and stressed the UK's assessment that conditions in Rakhine State were not currently suitable for refugee returns.