Myanmar authorities have taken little efforts to make any tangible progress to improve conditions in Rakhine State for the safe return of Rohingyas in almost one year into the crisis began though the international community, including the UN, remains actively seized with the issue, officials said.
Myanmar is likely to face ‘fresh spell of pressure’ following the first anniversary of the Rohingya crisis – August 25 – as the international community keeps close eyes on Myanmar, they said.
The UN Security Council will hold an ‘open briefing’ on the situation in Myanmar under the UK Presidency on August 28, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told UNB.
He said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are scheduled to brief the Council.
There will be further high-level meetings and events during the General Debate and high-level segment of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in September 2018, officials said.
“The UN will continue to pursue meaningful implementation of the MoU concluded by UNDP and UNHCR with the government of Myanmar,” Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York Ambassador Masud Bin Momen told UNB.
He said the two UN entities have recently issued a joint statement in this regard outlining their priorities and challenges ahead.
Responding to a question, Ambassador Momen said the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy Ambassador Christine Schraner Burgener will continue to remain engaged with the Myanmar authorities as per her mandate given by the UN General Assembly.
She has visited Myanmar twice since she assumed office. She is currently working on setting up her office in Nay Pwi Daw as agreed by the government of Myanmar.
Ambassador Momen said the Security Council is expected to remain seized with the issue in pursuance of the Presidential Statement adopted by consensus last year.
The General Assembly is likely to adopt yet another resolution during its upcoming 73rd session, in continuation of the Resolution adopted last year, he said.
The resolution will reflect the developments and challenges since the resolution’s adoption in December 2017, and will ensure the continuation of the mandate of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy.
The Human Rights Council (HRC) will also likely consider a resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar during its next session in September, a diplomat told UNB.
The factfinding mission, established by HRC, is expected to submit its report soon, which should help chart out further action on the question of accountability for the alleged atrocity crimes committed against the Rohingya.
The UN, especially UNHCR and OCHA, will continue to advocate for addressing the funding gap for the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis.
Sought comments, Ambassador Momen said the international community, including the UN, remains actively seized with the issue, with focus on humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya, facilitating their voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity, and ensuring accountability for the alleged atrocity crimes against the Rohingya.
He said a number of Member States remain bilaterally engaged with Myanmar to help create the situation conducive to the sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya to their homes in Rakhine State.
The diplomat said the UN Secretary General personally remains engaged with the issue, as evident during his latest visit to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar.
His Special Envoy and other relevant UN entities are coordinating their activities towards finding a durable solution to the humanitarian crisis.
Asked about challenges ahead, Ambassador Momen said the Rohingya crisis will continue to pose certain economic, social and environmental challenges to Bangladesh, particularly the host communities in Cox’s Bazar.
“It would be critical to keep the international community engaged to mitigate the impacts of those challenges, while ensuring the protection and assistance for the Rohingya till they are in a position to return to Rakhine State in safety and dignity,” he said.
It, however, remains a particular challenge to ensure that the Myanmar authorities live up to their commitments over the repatriation of the Rohingya, and genuinely invest in creating an enabling situation for the Rohingya to return in safety and dignity with assurance of sustainable livelihoods, freedom of movement and citizenship, among other issues, he said.
A high-level Bangladesh delegation, led by Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, visited Rakhine State of Myanmar and emphasised the need for accelerating efforts to create a congenial environment there and build houses and villages for the returnees to facilitate the repatriation.
On August 11, Minister Ali, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and joint working group members saw the ‘trail of widespread devastation’ suffered by people there.
Upon return, Foreign Secretary Haque reiterated that the repatriation issue in any country is a very ‘complex and difficult’ issue which cannot be done overnight.
"They (Myanmar) have shown what preparations they’ve taken so for taking Rohingyas back from Bangladesh. I would say something is done," he said while responding to a UNB question.
“We’re hopeful (of repatriation of Rohingyas),” said the Foreign Secretary adding that it will not be wise to get things done hurriedly.
Talking to UNB, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammed Abul Kalam said they are waiting to see more steps as pledged by Myanmar.
The number of Rohingya arrivals from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25 last year now stands over 700,000.