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Bangladesh, Myanmar plan Rohingya repatriation in 2 years

17 January 2018

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.

More than 650,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August, when Myanmar's military launched a brutal crackdown in Rakhine state after a militant group attacked police posts. Some 650,000 people fled the violence.

The military denies ethnic cleansing, saying its security forces mounted legitimate counter-insurgency clearance operations.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has favoured that Rohingyas' return from Bangladesh to Myanmar should be "voluntary" and that way just moving them from camps in Bangladesh to similar ones in their own country is not desirable. The military denies it was involved in any sexual assaults.

United States Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN refugee agency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was consulted but it's very important the agency is fully involved to guarantee the repatriation adheres to global standards.

"Major challenges have to be overcome", the spokesman said. "These include ensuring they are told about the situation in their areas of origin. and are consulted on their wishes, that their safety is ensured". And the government dismisses the reported abuses, claiming they are overestimated.

Many have questions whether Rohingya would return to Myanmar under the current circumstances, and whether Myanmar would accept them and allow them to live freely. It said they agreed that the process "would be completed preferably within two years from the commencement of repatriation".

The rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar's security forces was widespread, according to interviews with women conducted at displacement camps by United Nations medics and activists.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed on a plan to send refugees from Myanmar back to the country within the next two years.

Bangladesh's foreign ministry said the agreement showed Myanmar had demonstrated its "commitment to stop (the) outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh".

Another resident of the Kutupalong camp compared the new transit camps to ones set up near the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe following bouts of violence in previous years "where people are living like prisoners".

"The obfuscation and denials of the Myanmar authorities give no reason to hope that the rights of returning Rohingya would be protected, or that the reasons for their original flight no longer exist", the statement said.

Bangladesh, Myanmar plan Rohingya repatriation in 2 years