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Myanmar: Bangladesh to Start Repatriating Rohingya Thursday

Myanmar Social Welfare Minister Win Myat Aye talks to journalists during a press briefing of recent developments in Rakhine State including arrangements for repatriation of displaced persons, Nov. 11, 2018, in Yangon.

Top Myanmar officials say the repatriation of ethnic Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh, to which more than 700,000 fled since last year to escape deadly violence carried out by Myanmar's security forces, will begin Thursday.

Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Win Myat Aye said Sunday at a news conference that Bangladesh had informed Myanmar authorities that repatriation, agreed upon in principle months ago, would begin on that date. A Myanmar government handout said an initial group of 2,251 would be sent back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day.

Human rights advocates say conditions are not yet safe for the return of the Rohingya refugees, who have generally been denied citizenship and civil rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where prejudice against them runs high.