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Trump assures Bangladesh of US support

Refugees safe in designated villages: Myanmar

DHAKA, May 5, (Agencies): US President Donald Trump has assured Bangladesh of US support in dealing with the Myanmar Rohingya refugee crisis, a Bangladeshi official said on Friday. A letter from Trump was handed to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a meeting with US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat in Dhaka on Thursday, said Ihsanul Karim, the Prime Minister’s press secretary, and a US embassy official.

“The United States will continue to pressure Myanmar to create necessary conditions for the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya people to their homeland,” Trump said in the letter, according to Karim. Last month, Hasina said more international pressure was needed on Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees.

UN officials say some 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya have fl ed into Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to escape a military crackdown since August, amid reports of murder, rape and arson by Myanmar troops and Buddhist vigilantes in actions which the United Nations has likened to “ethnic cleansing”. Myanmar has denied nearly all allegations, saying it has been waging a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

In the letter, Trump also said those in Myanmar responsible for instigating the crisis must be held accountable, said Karim. He said Hasina reiterated her call for the international community to continue to pressure the Myanmar government to repatriate its people from Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Rohingya refugees who return to Myanmar will be safe as long as they stay in the model villages built for them, the country’s army chief has said, renewing fears they will be kept in settlements indefinitely.

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to repatriate refugees to conflict-hit Rakhine state last year but Rohingya are loathe to come back to a country without guarantees of safety and basic rights such as freedom of movement.

The country’s powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing compounded those fears when speaking to a visiting delegation from the UN Security Council in the capital Naypyidaw on April 30. “There is no need to be worried about their security if they stay in the areas designated for them,” he told the delegation, according to a readout of the meeting posted on Min Aung Hlaing’s official Facebook page on Saturday.

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