'No magic solution' to Rohingya crisis says United Nations team in Bangladesh

30 April, 2018, 02:12 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • OCHA  Anthony Burke

Dhaka - Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in squalid camps have sought United Nations protection as a delegation from the UN Security Council visited them in the south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar.

Karen Pierce, the UK ambassador to the UN, who was among the 15 members on the trip, was confronted by dozens of Rohingya refugees making emotional pleas for the UN to hear their stories and make sure justice was done.

"There is no easy answer but if we all work together I think we can find a way", he said.

A 24-member delegation from UNSC arrived in Cox's Bazar on Saturday to see firsthand the plights of the Rohingya Muslims crammed in makeshift tents made of plastic sheets and bamboo shafts.

Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts in Rakhine on 25 August sparked the military operation that has sent almost 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to camps in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Rohingya are denied citizenship in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar, where they've faced persecution for decades.

The refugees handed a 13-point charter of demands to the diplomats.

The UN delegation will speak to and conduct face-to-face interviews with the refugees in Bangladesh before they head to Myanmar to visit Rakhine, the state where the Rohingya lived before violence intensified against them.

In Cox's Bazar, the diplomats describe the Rohingya crisis a "very complex" issue.

Peru's ambassador to the United Nations and delegation leader Gustavo Adolfo Meza Cuadra Velasqez said he and his fellow team members were ready to "work hard" and were "very concerned" about the crisis.

He said his other colleagues are ready to work hard to overcome the "dire situation".

Lord Nazir Ahmed, the United Kingdom's minister of state for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, told reporters earlier in the week that Myanmar's agreement to the council visit and a previous visit by the U.N. special envoy for sexual violence in conflict "demonstrates the glimmer of hope in what has been a very dark chapter in human history in that part of the region".

"But there is no magic solution, there is no magic stick to solve all these issues".

"The issue is still, for us, to promote bilateral ways to resolve this issue".

He emphasized for constructive dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh. "The lack of a UN Security Council resolution has left the Myanmar government convinced that it has literally gotten away with mass murder", HRW executive director Kenneth Roth told reporters in Yangon. "And here, we will have to do our best to discuss this issue and find solutions in the Security Council", he also said.

Bangladesh's acting foreign secretary, M. Khurshed Alam, said the delegation's visit is "very significant", with worldwide pressure on Myanmar continuing to mount to ensure the safe and voluntary return of the refugees, who are seeking protection from the United Nations.

The visit to Myanmar will be very important, Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst told the Myanmar Service of Radio Free Asia (RFA), a news service affiliated with BenarNews.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement late a year ago to return the Muslim refugees. Aid agencies have been asking the Myanmar government to improve the situation in Rakhine state, where access to the humanitarian agencies is still restricted.

Hundreds of refugees lined a road in Kutupalong camp on Sunday with signs that read "we demand justice" and "protected return to protected homeland".


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