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Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to halt outflow of refugees, enable them to return home

Naypyitaw: Government officials from Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to halt the outflow of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh and enable the refugees to return home.

Myanmar minister General Kyaw Swe and Bangladesh's home minister Asaduzzaman Khan sign the Memorandum of Understanding. AP

Myanmar minister General Kyaw Swe and Bangladesh's home minister Asaduzzaman Khan sign the Memorandum of Understanding. AP

The two sides met on Tuesday in Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, to discuss a crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of Rohingya flee to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

The sides said in a joint statement that "Myanmar affirms its commitment to immediately halt the outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh, to restore normalcy in Rakhine to enable displaced Myanmar residents to return from Bangladesh at the earliest" possible time.

More than 600,000 Rohingya from northern Rakhine have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August, when Myanmar security forces began a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages. Myanmar's government has said it was responding to attacks on police outposts by insurgents from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, but the United Nations and others have said the response was disproportionate.

Tuesday's joint statement said that Myanmar declared ARSA "a terrorist organization" after 25 August and asked Bangladesh to hand over any suspects who may have fled there. Bangladesh said it would "continue to cooperate with Myanmar against insurgents, militants and terrorists."

Earlier this month, the two sides agreed to set up a working group on the repatriation process.

Myanmar's Buddhist majority denies that Rohingya Muslims are a separate ethnic group and regards them as having migrated illegally from Bangladesh, although many families have lived in Myanmar for generations.

The exodus of the Rohingya has become a major humanitarian crisis and sparked international condemnation of Buddhist-majority Myanmar.


Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 20:24 PM

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