Rohingya repatriation timeline set

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People informed about the joint working group meeting said Bangladesh pressed Myanmar to start the repatriation in next two months as per the 23 November 2017 agreement.

The Rohingya Muslim minority will begin to leave Bangladesh, with Myanmar agreeing to accept 1,500 a week with the goal of taking back more than 700,000 refugees within two years.

Some 650,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 25 past year following fresh violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state. The Bangladesh government refused to issue birth certificates to Rohingya babies who are born into refugee camps, so technically, they do not exist. "These include ensuring they are told about the situation in their areas of origin ... and are consulted on their wishes, that their safety is ensured".

"To ensure that the refugees are heard and their protection guaranteed in Bangladesh and on return in Myanmar, we are willing to be part of these discussions", the UNHCR said.

The Bangladeshi side says it's happy for the moment, but that Myanmar's government needs to rebuild trust. So involvement of the worldwide community, specifically the United Nations, is a must.

Rohingya seek the same rights as citizens that are afforded to Myanmar's officially recognized ethnic minorities - something the government has never granted. In a study released in December, non-profit Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said at least 6,700 Rohingyas, including 730 children aged less than five years, had been killed in Myanmar during the first month of the crisis.

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However, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was said to have objected to the idea of "pushing back" the Rohingyas and insisted that they should be arrested instead.

Bangladesh's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement received here on Tuesday said the two sides, in atmosphere of cordiality discussed and finalized the text of the Physical Arrangement which will facilitate return of Rohingays from Bangladesh, guided by the earlier understanding and principles signed "Arrangement on return of displaced person from Rakhine State" and the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the JWG.

Life for the Rohingya in Bangladesh is less violent but equally as problematic, with a lack of any formal refugee status and their rights to work being heavily restricted.

A top Myanmar official said Monday that a camp to host the Rohingya will be ready by next week.

A Burmese agency set up to oversee repatriation said in a statement last Thursday that two temporary "repatriation and assessment camps" and one other site to accommodate returnees had been set up.

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