Dhaka - A senior Myanmar official says the quick repatriation of Rohingya Muslims, who fled in their hundreds of thousands to neighbouring Bangladesh after last year's brutal military crackdown, is a priority for his government.
"The most important thing is to start the repatriation process as soon as possible," Win Myat Aye, a cabinet minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement, told reporters on Wednesday after visiting a refugee camp in the south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar.
Aye is the first Myanmar official to visit the refugee camp after a violent military crackdown forced nearly 700,000 members of the minority Rohingya population to cross into Bangladesh.
"We can overcome all the difficulties," he said, acknowledging the complexities that have so far stalled the process of repatriation.
Authorities are blaming the time it takes to construct new accommodation for the delay, as well as difficulty in verifying the identities of willing returnees.
There are also concerns for their safety upon returning.
Aye did not give any specific time to begin the process, which was supposed to have begun in late January after Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a repatriation deal in November.
The Myanmar military has been accused of carrying out arson attacks on Rohingya villages, killing hundreds of people and abusing Rohingya women and children. The United Nations has dubbed the crackdown "ethnic cleansing."