Myanmar has agreed to take back hundreds and thousands of Muslim Rohingya refugees who fled to neighboring Bangladesh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka said.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe signed the agreement in Myanmar on Thursday, the day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing”.
Under the agreement, the refugees’ return is expected to start within two months. A joint working group will be established in the next three weeks to oversee the repatriation, the Bangladesh ministry said in a statement. The crisis was sparked in August when militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked 25 police and army posts, killing a dozen security officials in Rakhine state and prompting retaliation by Myanmar’s army.
Describing the arrangement as a “win-win situation for both countries”, a statement from the Myanmar minister’s office said the matter had been resolved “amicably through bilateral relations.”
“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” Tillerson said in a statement on Wednesday. He said the US would work through the United Nations and also “pursue accountability through US law, including possible targeted sanctions”.
The agreement was signed after a meeting between Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Ali.