Myanmar Repairs, Fortifies Fence on Bangladeshi Border

Myanmar Repairs, Fortifies Fence on Bangladeshi Border

Bangladesh and Myanmar officials agreed on Monday to a plan for the repatriation of more than half a million Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled across the border to Bangladesh.

The commission presented its recommendations on August 24, a day before the insurgent attacks sparked the latest crisis, among them a review of a law that links citizenship and ethnicity and leaves most Rohingya stateless.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots there that go back centuries, with communities marginalised and occasionally subjected to communal violence.

Ali told reporters that the counties had agreed to form a joint working group to start work on repatriation.

Under global pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi, in her speech last month, had spoken of taking back the Rohingyas, but said Myanmar would conduct a process of verification. After fleeing burning villages they say were set alight by soldiers and Buddhist mobs, more than 100 Rohingya have drowned in the scramble to cross the Naf river that divides the two countries.

Bangladeshi home minister will shortly visit Myanmar for discussion over the border management proposal, said Mahmood Ali.

He said the refugees would be verified by the joint working group, with the United Nations not involved.

They are accused of being among dozens of protesters from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist community, including monks, who stormed a safe house on the outskirts of Colombo where 31 Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar, including 17 children, had been living since arriving in the country in April.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledged [statement] Suu Kyi's speech and Myanmar's intention to "implement the recommendations of the advisory committee for Rakhine state".

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called Myanmar to take the persecuted Rohingya back to their homes ensuring their safety and dignity. Aid groups have warned that epidemics could easily spread in the desperate conditions.

But no details of the planned repatriation were given by Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H Mahmood Ali, and there was widespread scepticism over whether any of the more than 800,000 Muslim Rohingya now in Bangladesh would return.

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