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Myanmar, Bangladesh cancel tourism to South Korea amid Rohingya crisis

Kolkata, India — Thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya have fled their homes in the central Asian country’s south-eastern border region of Rakhine State after authorities announced they would allow more than 2,000 Rohingya migrants to travel to the Korean Peninsula, a spokesman for Myanmar’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry spokesman said the move was to prevent Rohingya from crossing into Bangladesh and sparking further conflict.

“There are many Rohingya who want to reach Bangladesh and they want to go to India, but they cannot reach that place, so we have decided to allow them to go,” Zaw Htay, Myanmar’s minister for foreign affairs, told reporters.

Rakhine state has been engulfed in fighting between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist mobs for decades, with the majority of them fleeing to Bangladesh from neighboring Myanmar.

Authorities have been trying to halt the influx, with an agreement signed last month allowing the country’s military to restrict the movement of Rohingya refugees.

The agreement, however, requires the country to provide safe passage for the refugees to and from Bangladesh and also allow them passage to India.

Since the Myanmar military took over from the military in 2013, more than 80,000 refugees have crossed into Bangladesh, mostly to escape persecution, according to the United Nations.

Some refugees, including those in Bangladesh, have found work as laborers in Myanmar.