Rohingya repatriation to begin 'as soon as possible': Myanmar Minister

Bangladesh, Myanmar ministers meet in Dhaka over Rohingya repatriation

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed into Bangladesh since August 25 past year, when ethnic conflicts in Rakhine sparked the most rapid human exodus seen since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Social welfare minister Win Myat Aye visited the giant Kutupalong refugee camp near the border city of Cox's Bazar, part of a three-day trip to Bangladesh, officials said.

The agreement was signed during the visit of a delegation from KSRelief to the Rohingya camps Cox's Bazar, according to a UNHCR press release.

He added that, "Following the issuance of the Royal Directives to allocate $20 million in response to the most recent Rohingya crisis, KSRelief has initiated a number of key projects and has worked closely in coordination with UNHCR and the government of Bangladesh to attend to the most urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees".

"With the rainy season a few weeks away, we are working around the clock to avoid a catastrophe that could threaten thousands of Rohingya refugee families in Bangladesh", he added.

"First, they (Rohingyas) have to get National Verification Card to apply for citizenship and the (Myanmar) authority will give them citizenship status after scrutiny", he said.

The United Nations and United States have called Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya in the past eight months "ethnic cleansing".

Aye, who heads rehabilitation efforts in the troubled Rakhine state, also told the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh that getting the repatriation process moving was a top priority as the refugees were living in cramped camps.

The leaders from the displaced minority group handed a statement to the Myanmar Minister saying "it was not safe for them to return".

The UNHCR called on Myanmar to provide the agency unhindered access in Rakhine to assess the situation and monitor the return and reintegration of refugees if and when they voluntarily return.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejects the charge, saying its security forces launched a legitimate counter-insurgency operation on August 25 in response to Rohingya militant attacks.

"The whole return process will be operated as per the UNHCR, so there will be no pressure put on the refugee to go back", said the source.

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