Bangladesh Signs Deal to Return Rohingya Refugees to Burma

Bangladeshi authorities have signed a deal with Burma to return hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled recent violence in Burma’s Rakhine state. Amid international concerns over the Burmese military’s role in the violence, Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday that the refugees could be returned within two months. “We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us,” Myint Kyaing, a permanent secretary at Burma’s ministry of labor, immigration and population, was cited as saying by Reuters. Burma will accept only those refugees who can provide acceptable identity documents and a statement of voluntary return, Kyaing said. The deal was signed Thursday in Naypyitaw, Burma’s capital. The news comes after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday declared the Burmese army crackdown against Rohingya Muslims to be “ethnic cleansing” and threatened to slap penalties on the Burmese military officers involved in the operations.