Myanmar, Bangladesh sign deal to return Rohingya refugees

November 24, 2017 Off By Web Desk

Naypyidaw (OIC-UNA) � Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal on Thursday paving the way for the possible repatriation of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Rakhine state, officials said, as global pressure mounts over the refugee crisis, AFP reported.

More than 620,000 Rohingya have poured into Bangladesh since August 25, fleeing Myanmar’s military crackdown that Washington has described this week as a clear “ethnic cleansing”.

After weeks of tussling over the terms of repatriation, the two sides inked a deal in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw on Thursday following talks between Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali.

In brief remarks to the press, Foreign Minister Ali said: “This is a primary step. (They) will take back (Rohingya). Now we have to start working.”

But the scope of the repatriation, such as how many Rohingya will be allowed back and the timeline, remains unclear.

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.

The signing of the deal came ahead of a highly-anticipated visit to both nations from Pope Francis, who has been outspoken about his sympathy for the plight of the Rohingya.

The stateless Rohingya have been the target of communal violence and vicious anti-Muslim sentiment in mainly Buddhist Myanmar for years. They have also been systematically oppressed by the government, which stripped the minority of citizenship and severely restricts their movement, as well as their access to basic services.

Source: International Islamic News Agency