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3 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 3 July, 2018 03:22:38 AM
VISIT OF UN, WB CHIEFS at rohingya camps

No immediate hope of return

Int’l community including UN failed, UN chief admits; planning to do more, says WB president
No immediate hope of return
A combination of pictures shows UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres(L) and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim arrive at Kutupalong refugee camp during their visit to Rohingya community in Cox's Bazar yesterday. AFP Photos

As anticipated earlier, the visit of United Nations secretary-general António Guterres to Rohingya settlements along with World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim could not provide the persecuted people from Myanmar any immediate hope of return to their homes in Rakhine.

Instead, both of them hinted that it is a long haul and efforts should be made to improve their living conditions until their safe and dignified return to their homes.

Assuring the oppressed people of doing the needful for their return, the UN chief acknowledged that the international community failed the Rohingyas and he took his share of the failure.

He also said that the international community is divided on the issue and was critical of its apathy to donate funds to support the Rohingyas in Bangladesh.

The UN secretary-general also described the atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar security forces as ethnic cleansing and said the Rohingyas should be given all the rights including citizenship.

“First of all, it’s the responsibility of Myanmar. Let be clear about the responsibility. Responsibility is in Myanmar. It is true that the international community has not been able to stop... The international community is much divided in relations to the issue. So, obviously we all failed to certain extent and I assume my part of responsibility on this. But, the responsibility of the crimes committed is in Myanmar,” said Guterres when asked if the UN failed Rohingyas at a press briefing at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya.

The daylong trip of the world’s top international diplomat and chief of the World Bank included visit to several sites of Rohingya settlements, interactions with the persecuted communities and a press conference before flying for the capital. After his arrival, foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, who accompanied the dignitaries, briefed them about the situation.

At the Kutupalong camps, the chiefs of UN and World Bank witnessed demonstrations from the residents of

camps. Their placards featured some of their core demands including citizenship.

There were ample expression of sympathy for the Rohingyas and profuse praise for Bangladesh for generously hosting hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas.

“It is impossible to visit these camps without breaking our hearts with the suffering of the Rohingya people”, said Guterres

He said that listening to the terrible stories of massive violence, killings, rape, torture, burning of all the villages and tragic stories in relations to the systemic violation of human rights, he has no doubt that the Rohingya people have been, if not the only one, one of the most discriminated people in the world.

The Rohingyas are without enjoying most of the basic rights starting by the recognition of the citizenship by their country Myanmar, the UN chief said, adding that on the other hand, it is also terrible for us to see more than 900,000 people living in these terrible circumstances.

“When I see the young boys and girls, I remember my own granddaughters and I imagined what it would be like for my granddaughters to be living in these conditions. It is unacceptable that these people who have suffered so much in Myanmar now living in difficult circumstances,” he said, adding that they should return voluntarily with dignity when the conditions are conducive on the other side of the border.

“So, it is also necessary to say to the international community that the solidarity expressed by the international community has not been sufficiently translated into support for the Rohingya people in Bangladesh,” the UN chief said.

The response appeal of almost one billion dollar subscribed by all humanitarian agencies is only funded at 26 per cent, which means that the organisations working on the ground are not capable to provide the basic needs to the Rohingyas.

“We insist on the right to return of Rohingyas to Myanmar only when the conditions are there for them to live in full dignity in their own country. But in between, a lot needs to be done to build the resilience in the camps and to support the local community,” he said

Reiterating earlier announcement of providing $4.8 billion grants for Rohingyas, World Bank Group president Kim said that he has ever seen such a bad situation anywhere in the world and expressed his solidarity with the Rohingyas.

His bank along with other partners is trying to do more, he said.

Endorsing the recommendations of Annan commission, the World Bank chief said, “I was humbled, I was moved and I was extremely touched by the courage of (Rohingya) women and men today. In the extremely difficult conditions, they kept repeating again and again that their first priority is justice, their first priority is dignity. We are in complete solidarity with them.”

In addition to $4.8 billion for Rohingyas, the World Bank is providing Bangladesh a loan of $3 billion with very low interest, he said.

In reply to a question regarding citizenship of the Rohingyas, the UN secretary-general said that the international community is putting pressure on Myanmar to ensure the right of movement of Rohingyas, returning to their land, health and other amenities. One of the central issues of the UN engagement with Myanmar is citizenship, he said, adding, Rohingyas should be entitled to be citizens of Myanmar and that  this is in line with the UN principles. Describing the recent oppression by the Myanmar security forces as ethnic cleansing, he placed emphasis on reconciliation among the different ethnicities in Rakhine and elimination of the speech.

To a question regarding the MoU signed between Myanmar government and UNDP and UNHCR, the UN chief said that as the word Rohingya is not there, so is not the word ‘Bengali Muslim’ and that it is important to start working taking the possible concession from Myanmar.

“We understand their concern. They are Rohingyas to us. It is the first step. There is a long road ahead. In the meantime, we will have to support the Rohingyas in Bangladesh,” he said.     



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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