ROHINGYA Muslim refugees have returned to Myanmar from Bangladesh for the first time this year – despite a UN warning that the country is not yet safe.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since a military-led campaign of violence began in August.

A government statement said five members of a family were repatriated to the western Rakhine state from a refugee camp across the border. State officials issued them with a national verification card – a form of ID that doesn’t equate to citizenship.

Bangladesh agreed in December to begin a repatriation process in January, but they were delayed by safety concerns among aid workers and Rohingya.

On Friday, the UN refugee agency and Bangladesh finalised a memorandum of understanding that describes the repatriation process as “safe, voluntary and dignified ... in line with international standards”.

But the UNHCR said it “considers that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable”.

Rohingya have been denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they have faced persecution for decades.

Hundreds of Rohingya were reportedly killed in the recent violence, and many houses and villages burned to the ground. The United Nations and the US have described the army crackdown as “ethnic cleansing”.