Myanmar, Bangladesh ink Rohingya return deal amid concern over army’s role

NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an accord on Thursday over terms for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh, a government official said, amid concern that Myanmar’s powerful army could prove obstructive.

Rights groups have accused the military in mostly Buddhist Myanmar of carrying out mass rape and other atrocities during a counter-insurgency operation launched in late August in retaliation for attacks by Rohingya militants in Rakhine State.

On Wednesday, the United States said the military operation that drove 620,000 Rohingya to seek sanctuary in neighboring, largely Muslim Bangladesh, amounted to “ethnic cleansing”, echoing an accusation first leveled by top U.N. officials in the early days of the humanitarian crisis.

Myanmar is seeking to ease international pressure by striking an initial agreement on returns, while Dhaka wants to ensure overstretched refugee camps that have mushroomed in the Cox’s Bazar region don’t become permanent.

“We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us,” Myint Kyaing, a permanent secretary at Myanmar’s ministry of labor, immigration and population, told Reuters, referring to forms the Rohingya must complete with personal details before repatriation.

The signing took place after a meeting between Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood

Article source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya/myanmar-bangladesh-ink-rohingya-return-deal-amid-concern-over-armys-role-idUSKBN1DN0HA?feedType=RSS&feedName=newsOne

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