Published: Sat, January 20, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Bangladesh and Myanmar agree to return Rohingya Muslims within two years

Bangladesh and Myanmar agree to return Rohingya Muslims within two years

Seven ethnic Rakhine Buddhists died after Myanmar police opened fire on a crowd trying to seize a government office, officials said Wednesday, in fresh violence in a febrile state already scarred by ethnic and religious hatred.

According to the agreement, which was finalised in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw this week, a two-year deadline has been set for the repatriation of the Rohingya.

The agreement did not specify when the process would begin but said Myanmar would provide temporary shelter for those returning and later build houses for them.

The UN and other organisations have also repeatedly pointed out the existence of clear evidence of abuse, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling the operation "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

The ministry said a joint working group from the two countries finalized an agreement on Monday on the physical arrangements for the repatriation of the ethnic Rohingya.

"However recurring plans to move the refugees to uninhabitable islands or to return them to Burma without key citizenship rights and protections remained a concern", he added.

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Some 650,000 people fled the violence, prompting a response by UN Refugee Agency. "Our works are at the final stage as we have nearly 95 per cent Rohingyas now", said Abu Noman Mohammad Zakir Hossain, Deputy Director of Bangladesh's Passport and Immigration Department.

"Myanmar has reiterated its commitment to stop outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh", it said. "This is the precursor to establishing any voluntary, safe, and dignified return".

The Rohingya crisis erupted after Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts on August 25 in the western state of Rakhine triggered a fierce military response that the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing.

Around 1 million Rohingyas are now sheltering at cramped and squalid refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh, after fleeing cycles of violence in Rakhine state across the border, including at least 655,000 who crossed into the country since the military crackdown in August.

Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary at Myanmar's Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, told Reuters earlier this month Myanmar would be ready to begin processing least 150 people a day through each of the two camps by January 23.

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