Visiting Assistant High Commissioner for Protection of UNHCR Volker Türk on Tuesday said the repatriation of Rohingya people must be voluntary, not forcibly.
He said there is no option, except for becoming optimistic about the Rohingya repatriation to their homes in Myanmar.
The dialogue with Myanmar has to be continued for a permanent solution to the long-standing crisis, he added.
Terming the recent Rohingya influx a massive emergency for Bangladesh, he said Bangladesh has done an exemplary humanitarian service in human history.
He also maintained that the entire world has shown its unity for the Rohingya repatriation and this unity has to be sustained in future as well.
“Prior to coming to Bangladesh, I have visited Myanmar where I have got hint that they are discussing about the repatriation,” he continued.
He also made a call to mitigate the impact of refugees on host communities and to respect the right for the Rohingya to return to a place they can call home.
During his five-day visit, Türk met some of the estimated 6,00,000 refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state since late August.
He saw first-hand the link between statelessness and forced displacement.
The situation today is the result of a long series of discrimination over the years – the lack of documentation, freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, he said.
Turk also said, “We can turn this crisis into an opportunity by mobilising development actors and the private sector to develop the area – as we have done since the 1990s by investing in roads, bridges, schools and health centres to everyone’s benefit.”
He continued, saying that for return to happen, it’s clear there has to be safety and guarantees of protection. There has to be a very serious commitment to immediately implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission report that was launched and validated by the State Counsellor.
“We really need to see urgent action that will build the confidence of different communities. They will need to find a way to live together again, as they have done in the past,” he maintained.
The assistant high commissioner completed his visit to Bangladesh on Tuesday by meeting with UN and NGO partners as well as officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and the relevant ministries.