POST TIME: 8 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
UNHCR to stand by Bangladesh and Myanmar, says official

UNHCR to stand by Bangladesh and Myanmar, says official

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that it will stand by the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar for a solution for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and their safe return. But it also said that the current condition in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is not suitable for the safe and sustainable return of the Rohingyas. The observation came at a press briefing by the deputy high commissioner of the UN body, Kelly Clements, at a city hotel yesterday. She described the Rohingya crisis as the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world.

Clemens said although the UNHRC is not part of the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar, she advised both the governments on its practical application for the safe return of refugees. For restoration of normalcy and human rights in the Rakhine state, Clemens said it would require international monitoring in areas of return to ensure sustainability and prevent further waves of displacement.

She also said international standards of safety, dignity and voluntariness are necessary for the refugees to return, and a process should be started to address the root causes in line with the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations. However, Clemens raised questions about the verification process by Myanmar regarding the safe return of the Rohingyas.

“We look forward to continuing our discussions on the details of the bilateral agreement with the two governments in the coming weeks and months— especially with regard to some of the challenges relating to the extent of the UNHRC’s role in the process as well as the scope, timeframe and eligibility criteria that the arrangement sets out,” she added.

About the condition in the Rakhine state, Clemens said: “Refugees are still fleeing. Those who have arrived here suffered immense violence and trauma in Myanmar. Some have witnessed the deaths of family members and friends. Most have little or nothing to go back to their homes and villages.”

“Deep divisions between communities remain unaddressed and humanitarian access is inadequate. It is, therefore, critical to ensure that their return does not take place precipitously or prematurely,” she added. The UNHCR has commended the Government and the people of Bangladesh for their extraordinary generosity and remained deeply committed to supporting the joint emergency response for Rohingyas, she said.

“Bangladesh’s compassionate open border policy has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees,” she noted.

She said the UN body would continue to work closely with the Government of Bangladesh, UN and NGO partners, local communities and refugees  to meet the overwhelming needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

About the UNHCR’s emergency response, Clemens said they have deployed some 200 additional staff members, airlifted 1,500 tonnes of aid into Bangladesh, and ensured the provision of vital assistance, services and protection.