UN agencies agree to help return of Rohingya to Myanmar

Myanmar's government says it has reached an agreement with two U.N. agencies for their help in the return of refugees who fled violence in western Rakhine state.

About 700,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled since last August, when Myanmar's army led a brutal crackdown following insurgent attacks on security posts, and are living in squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh.

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in November to begin repatriating the Rohingya, but the refugees expressed concern that they would be forced to return and face unsafe conditions if the process is not monitored by international aid groups.

The government said it initialed a memorandum on Thursday with the U.N. agencies for their assistance so that verified displaced people "can return voluntarily in safety and dignity."