Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to complete Rohingya return in 2 years

More than half a million Rohingya refugee children are at risk in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh as the cyclone and monsoon seasons approach

More than half a million Rohingya refugee children are at risk in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh as the cyclone and monsoon seasons approach

Officials from the two countries met on Monday to discuss a repatriation deal signed on Nov 23.

In less than half a year, more than 655,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh, telling horrifying stories of systematic rape, murder and arson by Myanmar's military.

The agreement does not specify when repatriation will commence but outlines providing temporary shelter to returning Rohingya and building houses for them later.

The Myanmen authorities confirmed on the eve that the refugees will be temporarily sheltered in a camp and then relocated to their place of origin or in nearby settlements.

The UN High Commission for Refugees stated that the underlying causes of the crisis needed to be addressed before the Rohingya feel is it safe for them to return.

"There are talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar about people being returned to the very country which they fled. We want to see the repatriation process start soon and continue as long it needs to complete", Gomes said.

Rights group Amnesty International called the plan "premature", and that "returning so soon will be a terrifying prospect" for many Rohingya.

"The problem is not sending them back; the problem is their statelessness". That's out of 650,000 who've fled.

Some 1,550 refugees will be sent back each week, which will add up to approximately 156,000 over a period of two years.

The military, however, denies it was involved in any sexual assaults. "Even if I don't get food or anything else here, at least there is safety".

"There's no point in sending us back to Myanmar because there is no security for us there", he said.

"Our first priority is, they have to grant us citizenship as Rohingyas".

Some young men in the camp anxious they might be arrested on accusations of terrorism if they returned.

It was not immediately clear why the celebration turned violent.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested December 12 after police accused them of illegally obtaining secret papers from policemen, who had worked in Rakhine state. Myanmar's army described it as "clearance operations" against terrorists, but the United Nations and the USA have called it "ethnic cleansing".

The clashes garner little attention in a state dominated by violence against the Rohingya and in a country where several larger ethnic insurgencies are burning. The Rohingya have paid a heavy price for the lack of consensus amongst the worldwide community on how and when to decide to act effectively. "They should return our land and also rebuild our homes", he said.

Myanmar provided to Bangladesh detailed lists of 508 Hindus and 750 Muslims who have been verified as Myanmar residents and suggested they be included in the first batch of repatriates, said a statement by Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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