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Bangladesh inks deal with Myanmar to repatriate Rohingya Muslim refugees

Bangladesh inks deal with Myanmar to repatriate Rohingya Muslim refugees

"While precise details of this deal have not yet been revealed, talk of returns is clearly premature at a time when Rohingya refugees continue to trickle into Bangladesh on an nearly daily basis as they flee ethnic cleansing in Myanmar".

In a statement issued after the signing, Myanmar State Counsellor's Office said, "The arrangement was based on the joint statement signed by the foreign ministers of the Government of the Union of Myanmar and the People's Republic of Bangladesh in 1992, and contained the general guiding principles and policy arrangements to systematically verify and receive the displaced persons from Rakhine State".

Some 620 thousand Rohingya Muslims fled the violence launched in the wake of Rohingya militant attacks.

The United States on Wednesday labelled the Myanmar military operation against the Rohingya population "ethnic cleansing", and threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for what it described as "horrendous atrocities". The violence led to the mass exodus of Rohingya people east to Bangladesh.

The State Department says the cut in funding was based on a directive signed by President Trump in January banning funding for global organizations or nongovernmental groups that provide abortion services or advice that includes abortion as an option.

Another serious obstacle of Rohingya repatriation is Myanmar's military, which largely succeeded in ridding a Buddhist-majority country of a hated Muslim Rohingya minority.

He said those responsible "must be held accountable".

"The Rohingya have suffered attacks and systematic violations for decades, and the worldwide community must not fail them now when their very existence in Myanmar is threatened" said Cameron Hudson, Director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Now, more than one million Rohingyas are staying in Bangladesh. U.S. officials also worry that the mistreatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority may fuel radicalism.




United Nations officials and some human rights activists cite the Trump administration's withdrawal this year of $32 million in funding for UNFPA, the UN's family planning agency, as evidence of the USA turning away from issues facing women and girls in humanitarian crises. UNFPA said at the time that it does not provide abortion services, but the State Department said that UNFPA provides family-planning services in China, a country that does resort to coercive abortions.

Rohingyas entered Bangladesh over the last one year following military crackdowns in Rakhine State.

The agency has so far deployed 42 midwives who have delivered more than 400 babies, says Mr. Coquelin. The details of the accord are still sketchy, procedural disagreements on how to implement the plan remain, and not everyone is convinced simply sending the Rohingya back to where they were being slaughtered is the appropriate course of action. The Myanmar authorities have in recent weeks balked at the possibility of the Rohingya, whom they consider to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, returning to their native villages.

Others said they would only return if certain demands were met.

"Nothing can be done overnight, but we believe that we will be able to make steady progress", she said.

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"The US voice has been missing under this administration, and humanitarian experts on the ground are very much aware - and the people affected by these crises are very much aware - of a vacuum left by the loss of this voice", he says.

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