01/16/2018, 18.15
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Rohingya to be repatriated within two years

by Sumon Corraya

The agreement involves 156,000 refugees who fled in 2016 and 2017. Myanmar will take back 1,500 Rohingya per week. To do so, it is building a temporary camp for 30,000 people.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh and Myanmar have finalised an agreement to repatriate Rohingya Muslims displaced by recent violence in the Western Myanmar state of Rakhine. The repatriation process will take about two years.

The announcement by Bangladeshi authorities followed a two-day meeting by the Joint Working Group in the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw.

On 23 November, the two countries had agreed in principle to the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Myanmar, but left the details for later.

The deal the two sides struck will affect 156,000 Rohingya who fled Rakhine in the two major episodes of violence: October 2016 and August 2017. In the latter case, the exodus involved more than 650,000 Muslims.

The new agreement however does not cover refugees who fled to Bangladesh before 2016. Their number is estimated to be around 200,000 according to the United Nations.

Under the deal, Myanmar will accept 1,500 Rohingya a week. State media report that the authorities are building a temporary camp to house 30,000 returning refugees.

The facility will be located in Hla Po Khaung, covering some 50 hectares (124 acres) with 625 buildings. About a hundred will be ready by the end of the month.

Some Rohingya in Bangladesh are pleased with the deal. "I am very happy,” said Nurul Islam, a 35-year-old refugee in the Cox's Bazar camps.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he said, “We will be able to return to our homeland and die one day there.” At the same time, in acknowledged that “In Myanmar, we have been persecuted and want to justice".

In fact, "We do not just want repatriation, we also want to live in peace. Our government must guarantee it,” said another refugee. What is more, “Whilst we are happy to be able to return to our country, we want to stay there with the rights of citizens."

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