A Myanmar minister today toured one of the Bangladesh camps struggling to provide for some one million Rohingya Muslims, the first such visit since a Myanmar army crackdown sparked a massive refugee crisis.
It is the first time a Myanmar cabinet member has visited the fetid and overcrowded camps since a military crackdown that began last August in response to a spate of insurgent attacks forced some 700,000 of the Muslim minority to flee across the border.
They added to the 300,000 Rohingya refugees Bangladesh already hosted from previous bouts of violence.
Rohingya leaders in the camps said they would welcome the opportunity to meet the minister in person.
"We would like to meet face-to face with the minister," one leader, Mohibullah, told AFP.
Sources told AFP he was due to meet some 40 Rohingya community leaders while in Kutupalong camp.
The Rohingya have faced decades of persecution in Myanmar but the most recent crackdown has forced them to flee in unprecedented numbers.
He has overseen a stalled agreement with Bangladesh to repatriate some 750,000 refugees.
Myanmar has approved several hundred Rohingya from a list of thousands to return to their homeland but noone has yet crossed back.
Many displaced Muslims have said they fear a repeat of persecution that has forced them off their lands if they go back.
Refugees demand recognition as a minority, access to health and education and an assurance they can return to their ancestral villages rather than being shunted into resettlement camps in Rakhine.
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