Myanmar signed agreements with Bangladesh on Tuesday to beef up security cooperation and set up border liaison offices to deal with the exodus of Rohingya Muslims who have fled recent violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
Myanmar’s Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe and Bangladesh’s Home Secretary Mostafa Kamal Uddin signed two memorandums of understanding in Naypyidaw where they met to discuss plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh after a brutal military crackdown in northern Rakhine in response to terrorist attacks on Aug. 25.
Last month, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to begin a process to repatriate the refugees under a 1993 agreement that allows the return of Rohingya who can prove residence in Myanmar.
At an Oct. 2 meeting in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, Myanmar and Bangladeshi government officials agreed to form a joint working group comprised of officials from the two countries to work on the process of repatriating the refugees.
“The Myanmar authorities have informed our honorable minister that the joint working group will be formed by Nov. 30,” Sharif Mahmud Apu, the public relations officer of Bangladesh’s Home Ministry, told BenarNews, an RFA-affliated online news service, on Tuesday.
“They have also assured us that they will take the Rohingya refugees back,” he said.
A statement issued later in the day said that Bangladesh’s Home Ministry said Myanmar authorities agreed to a “sustainable” repatriation of Myanmar citizens from Bangladesh, but avoided referring to the refugees as Rohingya.
Officials from both sides who participated in the ministerial-level meeting earlier on Tuesday also discussed implementing the recommendations by the Myanmar government-appointed Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, employing counterterrorism measures, taking action against separatists, eliminating cross-border human trafficking and drug smuggling, and maintaining a peaceful border, the statement said.
“It is agreed that the chiefs of the border security forces of both countries will meet once a year, and the regional level official will meet on a quarterly basis to resolve border concerns,” it said.
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Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service and by BenarNews, an RFA-affliated online news service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.
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