Myanmar will begin repatriating families of the the people who fled from its Rakhine state to Bangladesh from January 22, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported.

The Rohingya exodus began after security forces reportedly targetted the Rohingya Muslim community during security operations in August.

Myanmar’s Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Win Myat Aye said that a group of 450 Hindu refugees would be allowed back across the border as the first step in the repatriation process. He made the announcement in the capital city of Naypyidaw on Thursday following talks between the government and representatives of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.

The refugees returning via land from Bangladesh will be put up in a camp at Taungpyoleiwei, while a second camp has been established in Ngakhuya near the town of Maungdaw for those returning by sea.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, has finalised the draft of an agreement on the repatriation of the Rohingya people, and is likely to hand it over to Naypyidaw next week, The Dhaka Tribune reported. The list will contain about 1,00,000 names, the report said. The two countries had signed the accord on November 23. Dhaka has biometrically registered more than 9 lakh Rohingyas who are currently in Bangladesh.

Though the United Nations’ refugee agency offered to assist in the repatriation efforts, just three weeks ago, the agency’s Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements had said that it was not yet safe for the Rohingya people to return to Rakhine. “Refugees are still fleeing,” she had said.

The Rohingya crisis

Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar and are classified as illegal immigrants. The community has been subjected to violence by the Buddhist majority and the Army in Myanmar, though the country has repeatedly denied this claim.

The crisis has threatened to jeopardise Myanmar’s US-aided shift toward democracy after five decades of military rule.