Bangladesh official: Rohingya repatriation ready to begin

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — A Bangladesh official says authorities are ready to begin repatriating more than 2,200 Rohingya Muslims refugees to Myanmar from where more than 700,000 have fled violence since last year.

Bangladesh’s repatriation commissioner Abul Kalam said Wednesday that 30 refugee families would be transferred Thursday at the Gundrum border point near Cox’s Bazar, where refugees have been living in cramped camps.

Kalam says the United Nations refugee agency is verifying the repatriation process. According to a U.N.-brokered deal with Myanmar and Bangladesh, all repatriations must be voluntary.

Foreign leaders have criticized Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this week in Singapore for her handling of the ethnic crisis that led to the Rohingya exodus.