DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Tuesday to begin by mid-November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh to escape an army crackdown.
More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed from the west of mostly Buddhist Myanmar into Bangladesh from August last year when Rohingya insurgent attacks on the Myanmar security forces triggered a sweeping military response.
“We are looking forward to start the repatriation by mid-November,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters in Dhaka after a meeting with Myanmar delegation led by senior foreign ministry official Myint Thu.
Myint Thu hailed what he called a “very concrete result on the commencement of the repatriation”.
“We have put in place a number of measures to make sure that the returnees will have a secure environment for their return,” he told reporters.
The two countries reached a deal in November to begin repatriation within two months, but it has not started. Members of the mostly stateless Rohingya minority are still crossing the border into Bangladesh.
Right groups say conditions back in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where most of the refugees are from, are not ready for a repatriation.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)