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From August 2017 to January 2018, an estimated 650,000 Rohingyas, out of a population of a million, fled from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh to escape a campaign of arson, rape, and murder believed to have been orchestrated by the Myanmar military. In late November, the government of Myanmar agreed to let these refugees return—although not to their homes, and at a pace that could drag out the process for a generation.
The world community, and particularly the United States, should consider taking a twofold approach.
It could use its leverage to make the November agreement a true turning point for the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya to their homes in Myanmar and at the same time invest in helping Bangladesh cope with the many Rohingya who are likely to remain in Bangladesh.
In 2012, after Myanmar's first free election in over 20 years, Obama restored diplomatic relations and sealed the new relationship with a personal visit; in 2016, he dropped most remaining U.S. sanctions. Perhaps the United States moved too quickly—but it should consider making clear to Myanmar's leadership that this move is not irreversible.
Read the full article on the Rohingya crisis by Jonah Blank and Shelly Culbertson at RAND