US welcomes UN-Myanmar deal on setting stage for Rohingya repatriation

The United States has welcomed a deal between United Nations agencies and Myanmar on creating conditions that would allow hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to voluntarily and safely return to their homes in the country’s Rakhine state.

“We welcome the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by UNHCR, UNDP, and the Burmese government to support the creation of conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to Burma, whether to their places of origin or of their choosing,” the US Department of State said in a statement on Thursday.

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“This is a positive step. We see this MOU as a confidence-building measure that, if effectively implemented, could allow much-needed humanitarian assistance to reach all affected communities and assist Burma in creating the necessary conditions for voluntary return and to support recovery and resilience-based development for the benefit of all communities living in Rakhine State,” it said.

“We encourage the Burmese government to fulfil its commitment to work with UNHCR and UNDP to implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.”

Since August last year, some 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Rakhine state in Buddhist-majority Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh.

They were fleeing violence and persecution, including a military campaign by Myanmar forces, which began in response to violent attacks by Rohingya insurgents.

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