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UNSC: Step up efforts, create conditions for Rohingya repatriation

  • Published at 10:17 am July 24th, 2018
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's BazarSyed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Around 700,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh fleeing violence which erupted in Myanmar on August 25, 2017

The UN Security Council has urged the government of Myanmar to step up efforts to create conditions for the return of Rohingya refugees..

Around 700,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh fleeing violence which erupted in Myanmar on August 25, 2017, reports UNB.

 In a statement, the council said Myanmar needs to progress in implementing  the agreements on relations with the UN refugee and development agencies, and with Bangladesh, regarding the return of displaced Rohingyas.

The statement says that Rohingyas face official and social discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar;which denies most of them citizenship and basic rights because they are seen as immigrants from Bangladesh. The statement furthers that the Ronhigyas are descendants of families  that settled in Myanmar generations ago; and dire conditions led more than 200,000 to flee the country between 2012 and 2015.

Following the attacks by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security personnel last August, the military began a crackdown and is accused of widespread human rights violations, including: rape, murder, torture, and the burning of Rohingya homes. 

Thousands are believed to have died during the crackdown which the UN and US officials have termed ethnic cleansing.

The Security Council members also stressed "the importance of undertaking transparent and independent investigations in[to] allegations of human rights abuses and violations."

The new UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said Myanmar's leaders want to bring the Rohingyas back to Rakhine state, but divisions exist between the government and the Rohingyas, as well as between the Muslim minority and the rest of Rakhine's mostly Buddhist population.

The council "stressed the need to step up efforts, including through providing assistance for social and economic development, in order to create conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of the Rohingyas – and internally displaced people – to their homes in Rakhine state."  

Burgener said she has traveled widely, met government officials, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, three times, and has obtained approval to open a small office in Myanmar's Naypyitaw. She said she plans to return to Myanmar in September.

"I need dialogue, and for that I need open doors," she said.

Several Security Council members have called for the UN's most powerful body to impose sanctions on Myanmar and pressure the government on the Rohingya issue; but China, a close ally of Myanmar and a veto-wielding council member, is unlikely to agree.

Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog, the current council president, stressed the importance of council unity, though he said his country thinks progress has been "far too slow."

"I think there is recognition among Security Council members that there have been positive steps taken lately. It's also fair to say that many of those steps are far from sufficient," Skoog said. "As long as the council is unified in terms of engagement, but also on putting pressure, I think we are making progress slowly."

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