As Myanmar's bloody conflict drags into its fourth year, the fighting has taken an enormous toll on civilians like Phyo Phyo Aung's family - including children. More than 2.6 million people have been displaced, the United Nations says, and at least 4,423 civilians have been killed since the coup - nearly doubling the 2,826 deaths during the first two years, according to Thailand's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

Presently we are aware of a flare-up in violence in the country where the ruling junta's grip on power seems to get more tenuous with each passing day. The new foreign minister of Bangladesh has voiced concerns that this could make the wait for Rohingya repatriation 'even longer'. This would be true if there was any repatriation process to speak of in the first place, or even if there was any talk or possibility of starting the process in the foreseeable future. Some date or tentative schedule, that the fighting would force to be postponed. To be sure, there was nothing of the sort on the cards.

We have seen two previous initiatives, mediated by China, make baby-steps and fizzle out. And let's not forget, Myanmar has a track record of acting in extremely bad faith on this issue, so we cannot even say for sure that repatriation is guaranteed - a matter of when, not if, once the violence subsides. The government of Bangladesh should also not ignore the risk of refoulement, the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution, that would put us in breach of international law.

On the other hand the National Unity Government of Myanmar, the government-in-exile that is fighting to overthrow the junta, has at least made some commitments to be inclusive and grant the Rohingya equal rights in their vision for Myanmar's future. The junta, even as they agreed to take back the Rohingya (subject to 'verification') in talks with Bangladesh, never made any such commitment. In its desperation to get rid of them amid a tide of xenophobia, rising crime and tensions with the locals, Dhaka has been happy not to push Naypyidaw on the Rohingyas' future in Myanmar. What is clear though is that under the junta, there is no prospect of amending the 1982 Citizenship Law, under which Rohingyas will always be vulnerable to ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

In Rakhine, the Arakan Army is the strongest group fighting the regime. Although they have not joined the NUG formally, they are reportedly in good terms. More encouragingly, in parts of Rakhine already under AA control, their political wing has started working with Rohingyas and reportedly even 'earned their trust'.

Specifically, the recent upsurge in violence after a lull of almost two years, has actually stemmed from groups like the Arakan Army making significant, even decisive gains all over the country. Myanmar's army, the Tatmadaw, is said to be bleeding with mass desertions, as more and more soldiers refuse to fight their fellow citizens. The once feared junta, that has ruled the country more-or-less since independence, barring some brief aberrations, today stands on the brink of a humiliating capitulation, if reports are to be believed. But military regimes tend to build up much by way of absorption capacity, and with no access to firsthand knowledge on the situation in the country, it is best not to hedge your bets just yet.

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