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Bangladesh, Myanmar agree on 2-year Rohingya resettlement plan

17 January 2018

Bangladesh and Myanmar have reached an agreement to complete the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who had fled to Bangladesh in the wake of last year's army crackdown in Myanmar in the next two years.

As per the plan, Bangladesh would set up five transit camps on its side of the border from where it would send Rohingyas to two reception centres in Myanmar. The repatriation process would start next Tuesday, according to statements issued by both the Myanmar and Bangladesh foreign ministries.

Myanmar said it would build a transit camp that can house 30,000 returnees.

The Bangladesh statement said ''Myanmar has reiterated its commitment to stop (the) outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh''.

Myanmar, however, wanted Bangladesh to take preventive measures against possible Rohingya attacks and said it gave Dhaka a list with the names of 1,000 alleged militants.

Myanmar army started a crack-down on Rohingya militants on 25 August last year following insurgent attacks on security posts, triggering an exodus of Muslims from the Rakhine state to Bangladesh.

Some 650,000 people fled the violence, prompting a response by UN Refugee Agency.

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

Bangladesh, meanwhile, called for repatriating orphans and ''children born out of unwarranted incidence'', a reference to cases of rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar's security forces resulting in pregnancy.

The military, however, denies it was involved in any sexual assaults.

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.

''Major challenges have to be overcome,'' UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told a Geneva news briefing. ''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.''

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

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