Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to complete Rohingya return preferably in two years

Bangladesh said on Tuesday it would complete the process of returning within two years numerous hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who had fled a conflict in Myanmar, following a meeting of the neighbours.

A camp to house Rohingya Muslim and Hindu refugees who return from Bangladesh will be ready by its promised deadline next week, according to officials.

A statement from the Bangladeshi side said the pact "stipulated that the repatriation would be completed preferably within two years".

Referring to the first meeting of the Joint Working Group of Bangladesh and Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation, which took place on Monday, the UNHCR said it was willing to be a part of the repatriation discussions in order to ensure that the refugees are heard and their protection guaranteed in Bangladesh and on return in Myanmar, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.

"Myanmar has reiterated its commitment to stop outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh", it said. 'Any repatriation process must be voluntary and only once the causes of their flight have been fully addressed'.

The deal applies to Rohingya who fled Myanmar in two major outbreaks of violence since October 2016, when militants from the stateless Muslim minority first attacked border-guard posts in northern Rakhine state. Most immediately, the voluntary nature of any return must be verified, with a process put in place for the United Nations to check that every Rohingya refugee who crosses back over the border does so willingly.

Previous episodes of displacement and return of the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar over the last 20 years "do not inspire confidence", the report said.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar Sufiur Rahman said, "We have signed a very positive treaty".

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The head of Myanmar's delegation told NHK it handed out a list of about 700 Rohingya who it says are qualified to go home.

"The Rohingya are still fleeing to Bangladesh because they are afraid to live there".

Noor Alam, 37, who came to Kutupalong five months back, wondered if he could ever get a job in Myanmar.

The allegations were made even as the Border Security Force foiled attempts by Rohingyas to enter the country illegally from Bangladesh.

Although widespread persecution of the Rohingya has taken place since the late 1970s, the violence that broke out past year has sparked mass migration and a #Humanitarian Crisis.

Modalities for repatriation of orphans and children born out of unwarranted incidence have been incorporated in the arrangement.

The UN has called the military's response "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" and repeatedly urged Myanmar's authorities to allow a fact-finding mission to visit the area.


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