An MP has spoken out against the forced repatriation of refugees fleeing genocide in Myanmar.

St Albans MP Anne Main and Rushanara Ali MP ­— joint chairs of the cross-party parliamentary group on the rights of the Rohingya ­— last week called on the government to end forced repatriation of refugees in Bangladesh.

Reports have emerged that Bangladeshi soldiers, police and parliamentarians have moved into Cox’s Bazaar, where over 700,000 Rohingya refugees were forced to relocate after fleeing a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military, described by the UN as genocide, in August last year.

Over the past few days up to 2,000 Rohingya refugees have been placed on a list for repatriation to Myanmar against their will.

The repatriation was due to take place on Thursday but most of those on the list have gone into hiding to avoid being forced to return.

Of the 50 families who were located, all of them refused as they were too afraid to return to Myanmar.

The UN, charities and NGOs working in the refugee camps have condemned the planned repatriation. Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said “We are witnessing terror and panic among those Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazaar who are at imminent risk of being returned to Myanmar against their will.”

The Bangladeshi authorities are believed to be strongly encouraging those on the lists to return to Myanmar but their Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, Mohammad Abul Kalam, has said the Bangladesh government will not be forcing anyone to return and that they are “totally committed to the principle of non-refoulement and voluntary repatriation”.

A joint statement issued by the two MPs says: “We are extremely concerned by the ongoing reports of repatriation of Rohingya refugees against their will. It is imperative that returns are safe, dignified and crucially, voluntary. It is our strong conviction that conditions have not progressed to a point where Rohingya refugees would be safe to return.

The UK government must step in and use their influence to ensure no refugees are encouraged to return against their will. We call on the Foreign Secretary to speak with his counterparts in Bangladesh and Burma as a matter of urgency to express the completely unacceptable nature of the proposed returns.

The refugees deserve justice, dignity and the choice to return to safe conditions in Burma if they wish. The international community must do everything it can to ensure these conditions have been met before any repatriation can take place."