DHAKA – Following repatriation from Bangladesh, Myanmar will send Rohingya refugees to temporary shelters before moving them back to their original villages or new neighborhood of their choice, Bangladeshi Minister of Foreign Affairs told the media in Dhaka on Saturday.
A H Mahmood Ali said that the two governments have agreed that the repatriation of the refugees to Rakhine should start within the next two months and will be conducted in phases, although he did not specify a start date.
Myanmar will also carry out a verification process before accepting the refugees back in the country, according to a Memorandum of Intentions signed by the two countries that was made public on Saturday.
The document, signed on Thursday, specifies that the final decision about the repatriated refugees will rest with the Myanmar government but stipulates that the Burmese authorities will not persecute or punish the refugees for fleeing the country illegally, except in specific cases involving terror links or criminal activities.
The agreement added that both countries will assist the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the process of repatriation as and when necessary.
The UNHCR had warned on Friday that conditions were not conducive for the safe return of the refugees to Rakhine.
The current Rohingya exodus started when the Myanmar army had launched a military offensive – which the UNHCR has described as ethnic cleansing – in the region on Aug. 25, following multiple attacks on government posts by Rohingya rebels.