The foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and Myanmar met in Dhaka to finalise the agreement signed on November 23 for the voluntary return of nearly three-quarters of a million stateless Rohingya living in refugee camps along the border.
A new working group would “ensure commencement of repatriation within two months” by developing a timetable for the verification of refugee identities and logistics of their return, Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Now, we will start the next step of our work,” Bangladesh foreign minister A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters after the meeting.
The reaffirmation comes a day after Human Rights Watch, citing analysis of satellite imagery, said Myanmar’s army burned down dozens of Rohingya homes within days of signing the repatriation deal with Bangladesh.
The watchdog said the deal was “a public relations stunt” and warned it contained no guarantee the Rohingya would be safe should they return to Myanmar’s conflict-wracked Rakhine state.
An estimated 655,000 refugees from the stateless minority group have poured across the border into Bangladesh since August, fleeing what the US and United Nations have described as ethnic cleansing.