Myanmar, Bangladesh strike deal on refugee return

By FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to boost security along the border and cooperate on the repatriation and resettlement of refugees from northern Rakhine State.

Agreements on security dialogue and the establishment of border liaison offices were signed following a meeting between Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant-General Kyaw Swe and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Mr Asaduzzaman Khan, in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

In a statement, the two countries also agreed “to cooperate in the verification process, reintegration and return to their own villages” of refugees who have fled northern Rakhine State in recent months.

More than 600,000 refugees from Myanmar – mostly Muslims who identify as Rohingya – have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25, when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched attacks on 30 police posts and a military camp.

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The mass exodus has raised tensions between the two countries, with Bangladesh accusing Myanmar of repeatedly violating its airspace and mining the border area.

Myanmar has proposed taking back verified refugees according to principles that were agreed upon in the early 1990s after more than 200,000 Rohingya fled northern Rakhine.

At yesterday’s meeting, the two countries also agreed to establish border liaison offices this year, to sign a further memorandum of understanding on counterterrorism and to enhance cooperate on fighting the drug trafficking.

The statement also noted that Myanmar had declared ARSA a terrorist organisation and sent Bangladesh the names of suspected members so they could be detained and repatriated.

Bangladesh emphasised that it does not permit terrorist activity on its territory and would respond and share information once an ongoing investigation had been completed.

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