TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to repatriate the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled a recent army crackdown in Myanmar within a period of two years.
The process will be “completed preferably within 2 (two) years from the commencement of repatriation,” the Bangladeshi government said in a statement on Tuesday following talks in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, to implement a pact signed last November.
Under that deal, Myanmar pledged to accept the Muslim refugees, who have taken refuge in Bangladesh since the Myanamrese military launched a bloody crackdown against them in October 2016. The deal does not cover an estimated 200,000 Rohingya refugees who were living in Bangladesh prior to that date.
The Bangladeshi statement did not specify when the repatriation process would start.
Myanmar will allegedly provide temporary shelter for the returnees before rebuilding houses for them.
According to the statement, Bangladesh would set up five transit camps, which would lead the refugees to two reception centers on the Myanmar side of the border.
But it was unclear whether the Muslim refugees — subjected to horrific violence in Myanmar and not even recognized as citizens there — would be willing to return or would have to be returned forcibly.
Myanmar’ government troops have been committing killings, making arbitrary arrests, and carrying out arson attacks in Muslim villages in Rakhine State since late 2016.
The UN says nearly 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the Myanmarese state to Bangladesh since violence intensified last August.
The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations but are denied citizenship and are branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.
The UN has described the 1.1-million-strong Muslim community as the most persecuted minority in the world.