Bangladesh, Myanmar to form 'working group' on refugee crisis

The genocide of Rohingya Muslims

Under worldwide pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi, in her speech last month, had spoken of taking back the Rohingyas, but had said Myanmar would conduct a process of verification.

"We can not be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority", she said, referring to the country by its former name, Burma.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between State Counsellor's Office Minister Kyaw Tint Swe, and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali.

Human rights activists and the Rohingya community have accused the Myanmar Army of trying to force them out of the country with a campaign of arson and targeted killings.

Queues for food are continuing to swell in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, as more Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar make the border crossing.

There was no immediate comment from Suu Kyi's representative.

Rohingya refugees undertake a unsafe journey to safety to neighboring Bangladesh, either on foot or by boat.

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They were divided into three groups and flown to Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships to meet with local people-Rakhine, Muslims, Mro and Hindu-from six villages in the areas.

He said refugees would be verified by the joint working group, but without United Nations involvement.

More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims and thousands of ethnic Rakhine and Hindus have fled the area since August 25 when the Myanmar military launched a devastating crackdown in the region following deadly attacks on 30 police outposts and an army facility by ARSA.

Rights groups say the real death toll is likely to be much higher, especially among the Rohingya, while the United Nations has labelled army operations as "ethnic cleansing" against the Muslim group.

"We have received news about possible terror attacks in ethnic villages in south and north of Maungdaw", he said. "The violence must stop", it said, calling for unimpeded humanitarian and media access.

Its insistence on verifying the Rohingya could prove a "stumbling block" to repatriation, according to Shahab Enam Khan, an worldwide relations specialist at Jahangirnagar University. "The majority are mostly poor who are leaving and have nothing to eat", said Lewa.

"If they treat us as equals, we would go back", he told AFP in a coastal town near the border. The minister gave no time frame for the process either.

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