DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh opened talks with neighboring Myanmar on Monday with the aim of securing the return of more than half a million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar, most of whom have arrived since late August.
The United Nations has called the exodus of 507,000 Rohingya since Aug. 25 the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, and says Buddhist-majority Myanmar is engaging in ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya Muslim minority.
Myanmar rejects that. Its forces launched an offensive in the north of Rakhine state in response to coordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents on Aug 25.
Myanmar blames the insurgents for attacks on civilians and for setting most of the fires that have reduced more than half of more than 400 Rohingya villages in the north of Rakhine to ashes. The insurgents deny that.
Myanmar says more than 500 people have been killed in the latest violence, most of them insurgents.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for an end to the violence and for safe zones to be set up in Myanmar to enable refugees to return.
She has also called for a U.N. fact-finding mission to go to Myanmar and for Myanmar to implement recommendations on solving problems in Rakhine drawn up by a team led by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Bangladesh would focus on those five proposals in talks in Dhaka on Monday between Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Myanmar government official Kyaw Tint Swe, in particular the return of the refugees, a Bangladeshi foreign ministry official said.