Sunday, 2 April, 2023

Rohingya repatriation must be voluntary

Says UN rights chief

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 2 January, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Days after the latest sea rescue of Rohingyas by Indonesian fishing crew, UN human rights chief Volker Türk appealed on Friday for greater regional protections.

Expressing deep sadness that more than 200 Rohingyas – who fled military persecution in Myanmar in 2017 – died trying to cross the Andaman Sea from Bangladesh in 2022, Türk said that the boats used to make the crossings were not only “overcrowded and unsafe” but also “left to drift for days on end without any help”.

In 2022 alone, more than 2,400 Rohingya attempted the sea journey.

And with no sign in sight of the crisis ending, the UN rights chief urged more countries to assist in their safekeeping.

Specifically, Türk urged States to coordinate proactive search and rescue operations, disembark Rohingyas on their territories, and ensure their protection.

He also called on regional and countries globally to help Bangladesh support over one million Rohingyas who have sought protection since 2017.

“An urgent solution must be found to enable the voluntary return of all Rohingyas, with full respect of their dignity and human rights as full and equal citizens of Myanmar”, underscored the High Commissioner.

 “My hope for next year is that we lead our lives, individually and collectively, with kindness, empathy, and unity. In how we relate to each other. In our homes, neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, [and] online”, he said in his look ahead message for 2023.

Türk recalled that if human rights are not protected “in the little places”, they lack meaning anywhere.

He argued for the protection of women’s rights at home and in public, saying that women and girls must have “full equality and freedom from discrimination”.          Children’s eyes must also be opened to the mistakes of the past, so they can “write a story of hope and unity” to create a better world in which “we celebrate diversity, convinced that we are stronger together than we are apart,” added the UN right chief.

He hoped for a future of online expression, protected from hatred and disinformation with consideration for other viewpoints; respectful disagreements; and embraced diversity.