On Monday's meeting of a Bangladesh-Myanmar Joint Working Group on the return of refugees who have been arriving from Rakhine into Bangladesh since August 25, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it "underscores the importance of the dialogue between the two states at the core of which is the right of refugees to voluntarily return home".
The working group has been meeting over the last two days in Naypyidaw to discuss the return of the Rohingyas, a Muslim minority, to Myanmar - an option rejected by several human rights organisations who believe that the necessary conditions to ensure the safety of this minority on Myanmar territory are still not in place.
Myanmar authorities have announced plans to build a temporary camp in Rakhine state to accommodate about 30,000 people in 625 buildings.
Statements from the Myanmar and Bangladesh foreign ministries said Bangladesh would set up five transit camps on its side of the border.
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"Myanmar has reiterated its commitment to stop the outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh", the Bangladesh foreign ministry said.
The agreement follows a pact between the countries in November paving the way for repatriations from January 23, a deadline that is likely to slip given the logistical challenges of the cross-border operation.
"To ensure that the refugees are heard and their protection guaranteed in Bangladesh and on return in Myanmar, we are willing to be part of these discussions", the UNHCR said. The reader's can rely on the content at their own will. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability, data, text, images, video, messages, or any other material whatsoever or for any claims/loss/action that the reader may suffer as a result of relying on the content on our site.
"The worst would be to move these people from camps in Bangladesh to camps in Myanmar, keeping an artificial situation for a long time and not allowing for them to regain their normal lives".
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Myanmar officials said the length of the repatriation will depend on how quickly Bangladesh can provide documentation of refugees' previous residency and how fast applications are submitted.
Despite having lived in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar for generations, Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic social rights.
The head of Myanmar's delegation told NHK it handed out a list of about 700 Rohingya who it says are qualified to go home. "Some 1,500 Rohingyas will be sent back in a week".
"I am sceptical whether they will be able to start the repatriation properly with the Physical Arrangement that was signed between the two countries", he said.
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