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Tensions over Rohingya return highlight donor dilemmas

Moves to redistribute northern Rakhine land complicate refugee return plans

Gwen Robinson, Chief editor | Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

SITTWE/YANGON -- Moves by Myanmar government officials to rezone and redistribute land previously occupied by Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State suggest that plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh are already being challenged within the government.

Abandoned lands would be reclassified under a recent initiative led by Myanmar's Home Affairs ministry to redraw the map of northern Rakhine, following the destruction of nearly 300 Rohingya villages and the exodus of an estimated 700,000 refugees from October last year. The exodus followed brutal military operations that saw villages razed, hundreds killed and maimed, and farming fields abandoned in Rohingya-dominated areas of northern Rakhine. The military action came after Islamic militants launched attacks last October and in late August.

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