The United Nations on Saturday commended the commitment demonstrated by the government of Bangladesh in supporting the Rohingya refugees and highlighted that the root causes of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar must be addressed.
“The Bangladeshi people demonstrated very early on its solidarity towards the Rohingya people, providing them with shelter and support when they arrived,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng.
The Under Secretary-General was addressing at the closing session of a workshop titled “Fostering Peaceful and Inclusive Communities in Bangladesh: The Role of Religious Leaders and Actors” in a city hotel.
He stressed the importance of ensuring that Rohingya refugees are given opportunities to uplift themselves educationally and have access to livelihood opportunities in Bangladesh until they can return to Myanmar.
Adama Dieng said religious leaders can play a very important role by promoting messages of peace and tolerance and by fostering dialogue between the Rohingya refugees and host communities.
“I hope the religious leaders and actors, as well as policy makers and civil society representatives present here today will continue to show this same humanity”, Adama Dieng said.
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Md Nojibur Rahman, conveyed Sheikh Hasina’s message of support for interfaith initiatives that promote social cohesion and respond to pressing development challenges in Cox’s Bazar district resulting from the influx of Rohingya refugees.
Stressing that the government of Bangladesh was fully committed to working with the United Nations and civil society to address the Rohingya crisis, the Principal Secretary encouraged religious leaders to also support this cause.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo emphasized that the government and the people of Bangladesh are the biggest donors to the Rohingya response.
She said the United Nations is committed to assisting Bangladesh, but it was host communities in Cox’s Bazar who were the true ‘first responders’.
Mia Seppo praised Bangladeshi host communities for their compassion, stating that Bangladesh’s traumatic experience in 1971, with millions of Bangladeshis forced to flee as refugees, had made the country particularly noble and generous towards refugees from other nations.
She also underlined that the biggest challenge in the region is to ensure a sense of hope for a better future, and that interventions need to address the urgent needs of Bangladeshi host communities affected by the crisis, just as they also aim to improve conditions for the refugees themselves.
During the second and last day of the event, a broad range of Bangladeshi religious leaders and actors, government policymakers, academics, civil society and United Nations representatives discussed ways to promote dialogue and social cohesion in Cox’s Bazar following the influx of Rohingya refugees.
The event was organized jointly by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Save and Serve Foundation.
The meeting also focused on how the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes, developed by the Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect and launched by the United Nations Secretary General in July 2017, could be implemented in the areas in Cox’s Bazar affected by the Rohingya crisis.
Meanwhile, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary‑General Farhan Haq said what they are trying to do is get the safe and voluntary return of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
“We need to make sure that the conditions in Myanmar are conducive to their return,” he told reporters in regular briefing at the UN headquarters on Friday.