The agreement does not apply to Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh before October 2016, under raids and municipal violence. Neighbouring countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, have had a generally cordial relationship within the Burmese military junta, although the presence of more than 270,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has often served as the main irritant. Bangladesh`s civil society and political class have often expressed solidarity in myanmar`s pro-democracy struggle. However, Bangladesh has sought to strengthen trade and road and rail networks with Myanmar in order to strengthen economic relations between the two countries.  In June, the Myanmar government signed an agreement with UNHCR to cooperate with the United Nations to create « safe and dignified » conditions for the return of the Rohingya to Rakhine, including security, freedom of movement and citizenship. None of these assurances have been given to date by the Government of Myanmar and access to UNHCR in Rakhine State has been limited. On 23 January, Bangladesh and Myanmar reached an agreement on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. The two governments reportedly reached the agreement at a bilateral meeting of a joint working group on returns held on 16 January in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar. UN officials have condemned an agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to begin the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, with the UN refugee agency confirming they have not been consulted on the plan.
We welcome the agreements on the practical organization of the repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, which were concluded at the first meeting of the Myanmar-Bangladesh Joint Working Group held in Naypyidaw on 15 and 16 January. Chris Melzer, UNHCR`s external chief officer in Cox`s Bazar, Bangladesh, repeated this, saying: « UNHCR was not a party to this agreement. Last November, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in which the process is expected to begin on 22 January 2018. The agreement stated that repatriation must be « voluntary, safe and dignified. » In November 2008, relations between two countries deteriorated further as a result of the absence of distress at sea between Bangladesh and Myanmar, as Myanmar allowed South Korean company Daewoo to explore the seabed in an area 50 miles southwest of St. Martin`s Island, the disputed area between Bangladesh and Myanmar as part of their exclusive economic zones.  Myanmar has sent two naval warships to protect its assets. Based on international law, Bangladesh stated that Myanmar could not authorize exploration activities in disputed areas until a resolution.