"Moscow welcomes the agreements on practical steps to arrange the return of refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, reached at the first meeting of the joint Bangladesh-Myanmar working group", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
But the deal has been pilloried by many Rohingya refugees who say they do not want to return to Rakhine after fleeing atrocities including murder, rape and arson attacks on their homes. Some returnees will cross over by land and others via a river along the border, it said. The Myanmar government would work to expeditiously rebuild the houses for returnees to move in there, the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry statement reads. "Bangladesh and Myanmar recently discussed and finalised the text (of the agreement) to facilitate the return of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh", he said.
Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to send back around 750,000 refugees who arrived since October 2016 over the next two years, a process set to begin as early as Tuesday.
Myanmar said on Thursday that it has asked Bangladesh to arrest and extradite more than 1,300 Rohingyas suspected of taking part in a rebel assault against government checkpoints in Rakhine state in August past year.
It wants the military held accountable for alleged killings, looting and rape, and the release of "innocent Rohingya" picked up in counter-insurgency operations from prison.
ARSA's attack on police outposts in August led to an aggressive retaliation by Myanmar's security forces. Burma's army described it as clearance operations against terrorists, but the United Nations and the U.S. have called it ethnic cleansing. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country in which Rohingya Muslims represent only a small fraction of the overall population.
"I have visited some border points to see the possible routes for repatriation over last few days, but we have not finalized anything yet", he said, calling it a "huge task" to co-ordinate among government departments, worldwide agencies and the Rohingya. He added that it was "essential" to ensure that the return of the refugee population is voluntary.
A Rohingya activist said: "We need citizenship and that our houses be rebuilt".
Who are the Rohingya and why are they fleeing? The state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar on Saturday carried photos of one of the reception camps for refugees at Taung Pyo Letwe, in Maungdaw, showing basic wooden structures closed off by high wire fences. Whether overseas monitors will oversee the transition or continued security of returnees; if they will be able to live freely in villages, or will end up in de facto internment camps in Rakhine is uncertain.
The commission proposed addressing the rights of Rohingyas to resolve sectarian violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, including measures such as speeding up the verification process for citizenship and granting citizenship by naturalisation.