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DHAKA/COX’S BAZAAR, JANUARY 16: Bangladesh said on Tuesday it would complete the process of returning within two years many of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who had fled a conflict in Myanmar, following a meeting of the neighbours.
The bilateral repatriation plan, which Myanmar said would begin next Tuesday, was greeted with some skepticism from NGOs, who said it did not adequately address questions of safety, livelihoods and permanent resettlement.
A statement by the Bangladesh foreign ministry said the return effort envisages “considering the family as a unit,” with Myanmar providing temporary shelter for those returning before rebuilding houses for them.
Bangladesh would set up five transit camps to send Rohingyas to two reception centres on the Myanmar side of the border, the statement said.
“Myanmar has reiterated its commitment to stop (the) out flow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh,” it said. The statement also called for repatriating orphans and “children born out of unwarranted incidence”, a reference to cases of rape resulting in pregnancy, a Bangladesh foreign ministry official said. The rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar’s security forces was widespread, according to interviews with women conducted at displacement camps by U.N. medics and activists. The military denies it was involved in any sexual assaults.
The crisis erupted after Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts on Aug. 25 in the western state of Rakhine triggered a fierce military response that the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing. Some 650,000 people fled the violence.
The military denies ethnic cleansing, saying its security forces had mounted legitimate counter-insurgency clearance