Bangladesh, Myanmar aim to finish Rohingya return in 2 years


Myanmar is building a camp to temporarily house 30,000 Rohingya Muslims targeted for repatriation after fleeing violence in Rakhine State, as Myanmar and Bangladesh meet to discuss how to implement a repatriation deal.

"Myanmar has reiterated its commitment to stop outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh, " the ministry added.

Sufiur said: "The repatriation will be based on considering the family as a unit and the form will contain the information of the entire family, which will make the process easier".

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has for years denied Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic services such as healthcare and education.

More than 655,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have left Myanmar since August 25, 2017, when the military launched "security operations" in response to attacks by Rohingya militants. Some 650,000 people fled the violence.

The U.N. the military's actions as "ethnic cleansing", and rights groups have accused security forces of atrocities, including mass rape, arson and killings.

The meeting in Myanmar's capital Naypyitaw was the first for a joint working group set up to hammer out the details of the November repatriation agreement.

Soe Aung, permanent secretary of Myanmar's Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said returnees will spend "at least one or two months" in Hla Po Khaung before their new homes are built.

Under the Physical Arrangement Bangladesh would establish five transit camps from which returnees would be received initially in two reception centres on Myanmar side.

Rights groups and United Nations investigtors say they have gathered comprehensive testimony of massacres and campaings of sexual violence against Rohingya women, while satellite photos show the complete destruction of scores of Rohingya villages.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to repatriate Rohingya refugees displaced by an army crackdown within 2 years.

Bangladeshi foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque told Bangla that the government had wanted Myanmar to accept 15,000 Rohingya each week - however, they eventually settled on 300 a day - 1,500 per week.

The UN's Tan said Rohingya in Bangladesh have cited their legal status in Myanmar and a safe environment as conditions for their return.

Many have questioned whether Rohingya would return to Burma under the current circumstances.

Despite repatriation concerns authorities in Myanmar have pressed ahead with the construction of a "temporary camp" in Rakhine's Maungdaw district.

Two senior Bangladesh officials who were involved in the talks had acknowledged that much was left to be resolved and it was unclear when the first refugees could actually return.

"We have proposed to repatriate 15,000 Rohingyas every week but they [Myanmar] did not agree to it".