BANGKOK: Myanmar officials say a camp to house Rohingya Muslim and Hindu refugees who return from Bangladesh will be ready by its promised deadline next week.
Myanmar and Bangladesh had signed an agreement in November to repatriate Rohingya and had set up a working group last month to oversee the repatriation of people who had fled violence in the northern part of Rakhine state in western Myanmar.
Win Myat Aye, the minister of social welfare, relief and resettlement, said Myanmar was hosting a one-day meeting with Bangladesh officials in the capital Naypyitaw to discuss the logistics of how many Rohingya will be allowed into Myanmar and how they will be scrutinized to be placed in the camps.
Officials plan to start the repatriation process from Jan. 23.
"We are planning ahead to be able accept the returnees from next week and we are sure that this will be done on time," said Dr. Win Myat Aye, the Union Minister of social welfare, relief and resettlement.
More than 650,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched a brutal crackdown in August following attacks on police posts by a militant group. Though Myanmar's army claimed it was a clearance operation against the terrorists, the United Nations, United States and others have said the operations were "ethnic cleansing" to remove the Rohingya from the country.
State-run media in Myanmar reported Monday the 124-acre Hla Po Khaung camp will accommodate about 30,000 people in 625 buildings and that at least 100 buildings are to be completed by the end of the month. It would be the first camp built in the repatriation process.
In the November agreement, Myanmar's civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, pledged to take measures to halt the outflow of Rohingya to Bangladesh and restore normalcy in the region. The U.N and rights groups have urged the Myanmar government to ensure the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya refugees.
Japan's foreign minister on a visit to Myanmar last week urged Suu Kyi's government to guarantee the safe and voluntary return of the refugees.