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4 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Rohingya crisis

Create terms for safe return

UN urges Myanmar

The United Nations (UN) has called on Myanmar to create required conditions for the 'safe and sustainable' return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh and engage UNHCR in the discussions on return, reports UNB. "We certainly call on Myanmar to create those conditions for return as well as to engage UNHCR in the discussions on return," UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo told UNB in an interview at her office yesterday. She also urged the Myanmar authorities to give unfettered humanitarian access in Rakhine State so that assistance can reach all

the needy groups in society. The UN official who joined the UN country team in Bangladesh in November 2017 said any ‘rush return’ will not be a sustainable return.

“But it’s an ongoing process and I think it’s a bit unfair to say there has been delays caused by Bangladesh,” said Seppo adding that the preparatory work which is happening now is critical.

On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on ‘Physical Arrangement’ which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

The ‘Physical Arrangement’ stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.

Bangladesh has already handed over a list of 8,032 Rohingyas which is being verified by the Myanmar authorities to start the first phase of repatriation on the ground. Around 7 lakh Rohingyas took shelter in Bangladesh since August 25 last year.

“I see it as a process,” said the UN Resident Coordinator emphasising that it is important not to see something as hard and fast conclusion.

Seppo said they also hear about firm commitment from the government of Bangladesh that any return has to be “voluntary” ensuring safety and dignity of Rohingyas and make their return sustainable.

“This is very reassuring in terms of government commitment to these key principles,” said the UN official.Bangladesh has said it will not repatriate anybody “without his or her will” but urged the international community to keep up pressure on Myanmar for creating conditions in Rakhine to make Rohingya repatriation sustainable.

Bangladesh officials said keeping up pressure on Myanmar is necessary so that it remains sincere and committed to the repatriation process and fulfill its obligation of creating conducive environment with ensured livelihood in safety and dignity in Rakhine.

The UN Resident Coordinator said there are media reports that people are still fleeing and conditions for safe return are not there. “Return is not just reconstruction of buildings,” she said stressing the need for looking into issues in line with Kofi Annan Commission recommendations.

Asked about the fund flow, the UN official said there is lot of competition in terms of funding and addressing the crisis as the world today has so many crises.

“We’ll do all we can from the UN through our capacities and our machineries to mobilise resources and remind international partners and donors of the commitments that they have made in terms of global burden sharing,” Seppo said.

She said the living cost of one million Rohingyas cannot be shouldered by Bangladesh alone. “I hope there’ll be a good response in the second week of March (joint response plan).”

Asked about the role of global powers, Seppo said the UN has a role to play in terms of providing the forum to member states to have a dialogue about the situation.

“It has been discussed in the UN Security Country very frequently,” she said adding that the government of Bangladesh and its foreign policy used the UN to bring attention to have a dialogue about the crisis.

Seppo continued: “That’s something that needs to be continued recognising the complexity of the crisis and also recognising the unsolved crisis in Cox’s Bazar.”

The UN official said the nature of the response will change the focus on the remaining burning humanitarian needs and lifesaving needs. “That’s top priority.”

She said support is needed for the host communities to make sure that they do not carry the biggest burden of the crisis, and laid emphasis on addressing the burden on forest, water, paddy field, agriculture and land.

Asked about the potential disaster risks, Sheppo said, “It is almost like a double dose of poison.”

“You’re seeing potential natural disasters within manmade disasters. So facing a scenario of natural disaster within manmade disaster is really scary and it is daunting,” said the UN official.

Seppo went on saying, “The challenge is that even with the perfect engineering solution, even with the perfect awareness campaign, even with the perfect preparedness plan, you would still have challenges.”

She said they are moving along with all the preparatory works. “UN agencies are working together with a range of partners, international NGOs, locals NGOs, RRRC and local authorities.” The UN official said they are still in dialogue with the government as how to deal with the need for relocation.


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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.

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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