Bangladesh, Myanmar agree timeframe for repatriating of Rohingya Muslims


Dhaka, Jan. 16 (TNS): Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed a timeframe for repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled crackdowns from the military.

Myanmar has agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week, Bangladesh says, adding that it aims to return all of them to Myanmar within two years.

More than 740,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh amid violence in Rakhine state in 2016 and 2017.

Aid agencies have raised concerns about forcibly repatriating them.

Bangladesh says it aims to repatriate families together, as well as orphans and “children born out of unwarranted incidence” – meaning children conceived as a result of rape.

However, displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh have expressed concerns about returning to Myanmar.

Sirajul Mostofa, a community leader in a camp in Cox’s Bazaar, told the BBC: “We are still not clear about what agreement was signed.

“Our first priority is, they have to grant us citizenship as Rohingyas. Secondly, they have to give back our lands. Thirdly, our security must be ensured internationally. Otherwise, this is not good for us.”

Bangladeshi foreign secretary Shahidul Haque told BBC Bangla that the government had wanted to repatriate the Rohingya more quickly.

“We asked them to take back 15,000 every week. But they said they will take back 300 people every day, so that makes 1,500 every week.

“So we compromised that we will start by sending 300 people each day, but there will be a review in three months’ time and the number will be increased.”