BANGKOK — Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on Thursday covering the return of Rohingya Muslims who fled across their mutual border to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Myanmar announced the agreement but provided no details on how many Rohingya refugees would be allowed to return home. Bangladesh said the repatriations are to begin within two months.
More than 620,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when the army began what it called "clearance operations" following an attack on police posts by a group of Rohingya insurgents. Refugees arriving in Bangladesh said their homes were set on fire by soldiers and Buddhist mobs, and some reported being shot at by security forces.
The office of Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi said the agreement "on the return of displaced persons from Rakhine state" was signed by Cabinet officials in Naypyitaw, Myanmar's capital. It said the pact follows a formula set in a 1992 repatriation agreement signed by the two nations after an earlier spasm of violence. Under that agreement, Rohingya were required to present residency documents, which few have, before being allowed to return to Myanmar.
"We're continuing our bilateral talks with Myanmar so that these Myanmar nationals (Rohingya) could return to their country," Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was quoted as saying by the United News of Bangladesh news agency. "It's my call to Myanmar to start taking back soon their nationals from Bangladesh."
Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.