The outgoing UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka, Robert Watkins, on Thursday said Myanmar must change its mindset for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.
“Not only army and people in Rakhine state, but also all the people of Myanmar will have to change their mindset towards the Rohingya people,” he said while speaking at DCAB Talk.
Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) arranged the programme in the capital with its president Rezaul Karim Lotus in the chair.
Watkins said there is deep-rooted antagonism among the population of Rakhine state towards Rohingyas, he said they must change their mindset for any durable solutions to the crisis.
Although Myanmar has said it will implement the recommendations of Kofi Annan Commission report, it is not enough for Rohingya solution, he noted, saying the mindset of the people of the entire country have to be changed to end the crisis.
In reply to a query, the outgoing UN resident coordinator said, “It is very clear to us that Bangladesh has a very sincere in finding a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.”
The entire world knows that Bangladesh is very cordial to reach a solution to Rohingya problem as it has been suffering a lot due to the crisis, he said.
Watkins also said Rohingya crisis has originated in Myanmar and its solution will have to be found across the border.
He said the UN wants Rohingyas to return to their homes in Rakhine and that Myanmar government has to build their houses so that they can return home safely and wit dignity.
Watkins said the UN is providing highest assistance to Bangladesh to face Rohingya crisis and that Bangladesh has also shown its generosity by hosting around 700,000 Rohingyas on its soil.
The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) has so far held three meetings to discuss the Rohingya problem, though it couldn’t come up with a resolution, he mentioned.
However, the UNSC has kept continuing its pressure on Myanmar for a solution to the Rohingya crisis, Watkins pointed out.
In reply to a question, he said it depends on the Bangladesh government about whether it will grant the Rohingyas refugee status since the country is not a signatory to the UN convention.
Over the next general election, he said the UN wants to see a free, fair and inclusive election in Bangladesh and that there is no alternative to strengthening the Election Commission.
“We hope the next general election of Bangladesh will be held in a free, fair and credible way with the participation of all the political parties,” he said.
The UN diplomat said that people have to be reassured that all of the institutions of the country are neutral and not working under pressure and they are independent.
Mentioning that everything has so far happened in a positive way, he said that the UN believes that effective democracy is good for the world.
About security in Bangladesh, Watkins said, “I saw during my last three-year tenure here that the law enforcement agencies have improved a lot.”