Bangladesh Agrees with Myanmar for UN to Assist Rohingya Return

Rohingya refugees wait to cross into Bangladesh. AP file photo
Rohingya refugees wait to cross into Bangladesh. AP file photo
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Bangladesh Agrees with Myanmar for UN to Assist Rohingya Return

Rohingya refugees wait to cross into Bangladesh. AP file photo
Rohingya refugees wait to cross into Bangladesh. AP file photo

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to take assistance from the UN refugee agency for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said on Saturday.

More than 600,000 Rohingya sought sanctuary in Bangladesh after Myanmar's military launched a brutal attack on their villages in Rakhine State on Aug. 25.

The governments Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a pact on Thursday settling the terms for the repatriation process, and the return of the Rohingya to Myanmar is expected to start in two months.

Uncertainty over whether the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would have a role had prompted rights groups to insist that outside monitors were needed to safeguard the Rohingya's return.

"At present, conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine State are not in place to enable safe and sustainable returns," UNHCR said Friday.

But Ali told a news conference on Saturday that “the signing of the deal is a first step. The two countries will now have to work on more steps.”

"Both countries agreed to take assistance from the UNHCR in the Rohingya repatriation process," he said. "Myanmar will take its assistance as per their requirement."

A joint working group of the three parties will be formed within three weeks and the group will fix the final terms to start the repatriation process, said Ali.

"Our priority is to ensure their safe return to their homeland with honor," the minister said.

After repatriation, Rohingya will be kept at temporary shelters or camps near to their abandoned homes, he said.

"Homes have been burnt to the ground in Rakhine, that need to be rebuilt. We have proposed Myanmar to take help from India and China for building camps for them," the minister said.

The UN and United States have described the military's actions as "ethnic cleansing", and rights groups have accused Myanmar's security forces of atrocities, including mass rape, arson and killings.



Netanyahu Receives Warning from Panel Probing Submarine Purchase 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
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Netanyahu Receives Warning from Panel Probing Submarine Purchase 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a state memorial ceremony at Nachalat Yitzhak cemetery in Tel Aviv on June 18, 2024. (AFP)

An Israeli commission investigating suspected wrongdoing in government purchases of submarines and missile boats from Germany issued a warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

The panel notified Netanyahu that based on evidence gathered thus far, it could ultimately determine that he had used his position as prime minister between 2009 and 2016 to greenlight the purchases without due process.

"By doing so, he (Netanyahu) endangered the security of the state and harmed the state of Israel's foreign relations and economic interests," said the panel in its written decision, made public on Monday.

Netanyahu in response said that the submarines were central to Israel's security "in ensuring its existence against Iran, which is trying to destroy us".

"History will prove that Prime Minister Netanyahu was right on this issue as well and made the right decisions for the security of Israel," the statement from his office said.

The commission, established under the previous government in 2022, said that it will soon publish unclassified parts of the evidence collected during the probe into the deal, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Netanyahu has struggled to salvage his security credentials since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas-led fighters, who killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages to Gaza according to Israeli tallies, the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

In the Israeli assault on Gaza that followed, more than 37,000 people have been killed according to Gaza health authorities.