Myanmar and Bangladesh have Reached an Agreement to Return the Rohingya Refugees
Nov 26, 2017, 00:57
Bangladesh and Myanmar struck a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) following a meeting between foreign minister Mahmood Ali and Myanmar's state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday morning at Suu Kyi's office.
More than 620,000 Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, have fled into Bangladesh, escaping what the United States on Wednesday termed "ethnic cleansing" by Myanmar's security forces.
"This is a primary step". The report recommends a register of all those who've moved into Bangladesh to be used as the basis of getting them back home.
"It's not a situation that is completely under her authority, but certainly we are counting on her to show leadership and also to work through the civilian government with the military to address the crisis", a senior U.S. official told reporters in a conference call.
"We won't return to any refugee camps in Rakhine", he told AFP in Bangladesh.
On Thursday morning, the U.S. embassy in Myanmar said it had temporarily suspended travel for American officials to parts of Rakhine state, citing concerns over potential protests after Tillerson's comments. The houses there have been torched. levelled.
"Since their houses are burned and destroyed", Mahmood Ali said, "they need to be rebuilt".
Myint Kyaing, a permanent secretary at Myanmar's ministry of labor, immigration and population, told Reuters, "We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us", referring to forms the Rohingyas must complete with personal details before repatriation. Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay also tweeted that an "agreement on repatriation" had been signed, though he could not be reached by phone for further comment.
Myanmar did not meet Bangladesh's full expectation on the repatriation timeframe as it only agrees on starting time but not the ending point, a senior diplomat told UNB. Dhaka also sought the involvement of United Nations agencies in the verification process, which was also rejected by the other side.
"We've agreed on many things though our expectation is not met fully".
Bangladesh and Myanmar, however, agreed on formation of joint working group at foreign-secretary level to start the repatriation process of all Rohingyas.
The Prime Minister said her government has been engaged in constant dialogue with Myanmar officials so that the displaced Myanmar nationals could be able to return to their homes safely.
Suu Kyi's office called Thursday's agreement a "win-win situation for both countries", saying the issue should be "resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations".
Rights groups have raised concerns about the process, including where the minority will be resettled after hundreds of their villages were razed, and how their safety will be ensured in a country where anti-Muslim sentiment is surging.
Even in his later statement, condemning the actions by "some among the Burmese military" as "ethnic cleansing", Tillerson confirmed that the United States will stand by its decision to support the Myanmar government in the resolution of the crisis.
The statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the strongest USA condemnation yet of the crackdown, accusing Myanmar's security forces of perpetrating "horrendous atrocities" against the group. The Myanmar military has denied it is engaged in a widespread campaign to eliminate the Rohingya and blamed Muslim militants for provoking violence.
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