Bangladesh Agrees With Burma to Complete Rohingya Return in Two Years

Seven ethnic Rakhine killed as Myanmar police fire on riot

Life for the Rohingya in Bangladesh is less violent but equally as problematic, with a lack of any formal refugee status and their rights to work being heavily restricted.

The three processes cover acceptance under the principles of humanitarianism, resettlement and rehabilitation, and regional development and freedom from conflicts, said U Zaw Htay, director-general of the Ministry of the State Counselor's Office.

A CAMP to house Rohingya Muslim and Hindu refugees who return from Bangladesh to Myanmar will be ready by its promised deadline next week.

When asked whether the verification process is different from the one outlined in 1992 when a similar crisis had led to another deal being agreed upon, the ministry official declined to clarify, saying the foreign secretary will clarify the issue later.

It is believed there are almost 1 million Rohingya now living in Bangladesh. "How can you expect the traumatised people to return?" he said, referring to Myanmar's reiteration of commitment in the Physical Arrangement to stop the outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh.

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In less than half a year, more than 655,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh, telling horrifying stories of systematic rape, murder and arson by Myanmar's military.

Some 650,000 people fled the violence, prompting a response by UN Refugee Agency. The Muslim minority have faced decades of systemic oppression in Myanmar; the U.S. government has described the most recent violence as ethnic cleansing. Its government refuses even to recognise them as citizens.

There has been no global effort to ensure the safety and welfare of Rohingya should they be repatriated to Myanmar. Myanmar repeatedly denies that. He and his wife are now seeking refuge in Bangladesh's Kutupalong refugee camp.

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

During the meeting back in November, the two countries agreed that 23 January would be the deadline. "I think it would be a smart move on the part of the government to release them before we arrive, but I'm not optimistic that will happen".

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The number of Rohingya sent back every week will increase after three months, Rahman said.

"We have been persecuted and brutalised there", she said. Developing countries with much weaker economies and far larger refugee populations have taken full note of these developments and are understandably asking why they should not follow the same example.

A spokesperson from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), however, said the Rohingya should only return voluntarily when they feel it is safe to do so.

The two countries formed the JWG on December 19, following a repatriation deal signed on November 23 past year amid global outcry over the military crackdown that the United Nations and the USA described as ethnic cleansing.

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