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‘Comprehensive’ solution needed to end mass displacement of Rohingya

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 26th August, 2022 04:08:07 PM
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UN António Guterres has called on the international community to find “comprehensive, durable and inclusive solutions” to help end the plight of forcible displaced Rohingyas fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape a brutal military crackdown five years ago.

More than one million Rohinmgyas remain in the vast camps of Cox’s Bazar, without any immediate prospect of being able to return home, which more than 150,000 mostly-Muslim Rohingya are still “confined in camps” in their native Rakhine state, said a statement issued on behalf of the UN Secretary-General on Thursday (Aug 25).

And following the military coup of February 2021, the humanitarian, human rights and security situation in Myanmar itself, has rapidly deteriorated, making conditions even less conducive to refugees’ return.

Participation crucial

“The Secretary-General notes the unflagging aspirations for an inclusive future among the country’s many ethnic, and religious groups and underlines that the full and effective participation of the Rohingya people is an inherent part of a Myanmar-led solution to the crisis”, the statement said.

“Greater humanitarian and development access for the United Nations and its partners to affected areas is crucial.  Perpetrators of all international crimes committed in Myanmar should be held accountable. Justice for victims will contribute to a sustainable and inclusive political future for the country and its people.”

Speaking in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, said that Myanmar’s Tatmadaw forces had maintained and even escalated operations against civilians in residential areas in southeast, northwest and central regions, 18 months since they overthrew the democratically-elected overnment.

The use of air power and artillery against villages and residential areas has “intensified”, the UN human rights chief said, while also warning that recent spikes of violence in Rakhine - the historic former home of ethnic Rohingya - could upset the relative calm in the region, and that the last fairly stable area of the country may not avoid a resurgence of armed conflict.

Generosity of Bangladesh

UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, said during her four-day mission to Bangladesh to highlight the poignant anniversary, that “we cannot let this become a forgotten crisis”.

In what were described as “productive discussions”, she thanked Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her leadership and expressed the UN’s deep appreciation to the people and Government of Bangladesh for their immense contribution.

“The generosity of Bangladesh and host communities towards Rohingya refugees in their time of need conveys a critical need for greater international and regional commitment to burden share and ensure that the Rohingya do not become forgotten,” Special Envoy Heyzer said.

“I will continue to advocate for greater leadership of countries in the region in supporting Bangladesh and leveraging their influence with Myanmar to create conducive conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees.”

She stressed that Rohingya people continue to undertake perilous land and sea journeys that expose them to criminal exploitation including human trafficking and gender-based violence, and emphasized that it was ultimately Myanmar’s responsibility to establish conducive conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return to Myanmar of all refugees and those forcibly displaced.

The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramilla Patten, also urged greater international action, and for countries to stand in solidarity with the Rohingya survivors of grave international crimes to ensure access to justice and redress, which is foundational for recovery and peace.”

“In 2017 and 2018 during my visits to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, I had witnessed firsthand the visible scars on women and girls from the sexual violence they endured. All of the women I spoke with said they wanted to see the perpetrators punished. They all – without exception – demanded justice”, she added.

Since 2010, the annual reports of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence have documented patterns of sexual violence crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya, and in 2019 the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (IIMM) concluded that “rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorize or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war” - one of the hallmarks of the military operations conducted by the Tatmadaw.