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Myanmar signs deal to take back Rohingya Muslim refugees

By BBC
Rohingya Muslims

Bangladesh has signed a deal with Myanmar to return hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled a recent army crackdown.

A statement from the Bangladesh foreign ministry said displaced people could begin to return within two months.

The two sides say they are working on the details. The crisis has been called ethnic cleansing by the UN and the US.

Aid agencies have raised concerns about the forcible return of the Rohingya unless their safety can be guaranteed.

The Rohingya are a stateless minority who have long experienced persecution in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

More than 600,000 have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since deadly Rohingya attacks on police posts prompted a military crackdown in Rakhine state in late August.

"The 'Arrangement' stipulates that the return shall commence within two months," a press release from the Bangladeshi government said.

Few other details were released following the signing of the memorandum in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali said it was a "first step". Senior Myanmar official Myint Kyaing said it was ready to receive the Rohingya "as soon as possible".

Myanmar's conditions of return remain unclear, and many Rohingya are terrified of being sent back. Refugees at Kutupalong Camp in Bangladesh said they want guarantees of citizenship and their land returned.

"We will go back if they don't harass us and if we can live life like the Buddhists and other ethnic minorities," one man, Sayed Hussein, told Reuters.

"I don't trust the Myanmar government. My husband left three times and this is my second time to leave. The Myanmar government is always like this," a woman, Narusha, said.

Read also: 50,000 Rohingya Muslims flee violence in Myanmar

 Aung San Suu Kyi condemns 'all human rights violations'

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