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Three Nobel laureates arrive to see Rohingya situation up close

  • Published at 12:00 am February 25th, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:08 am February 25th, 2018
Three Nobel laureates arrive to see Rohingya situation up close
Three Nobel Laureates started their weeklong visit to Bangladesh on Saturday and will go to Cox's Bazar on Sunday to see the Rohingya situation on the ground. "We are going to Cox's Bazar tomorrow (Sunday) and will return to Dhaka in the afternoon on Tuesday," an official who will accompany the trio told UNB on Saturday. Nobel Laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, Shirin Ebadi of Iran and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen will seek to gain a better understanding of the assistance and protection being provided by the Bangladesh government and local communities, including the challenges they face. They will also see the role of local and international organizations providing support to the Rohingya women in the camps and elsewhere. The Nobel Women's Initiative, in partnership with local Bangladeshi women's organization, Naripokkho, is hosting the delegation to Bangladesh to witness and highlight the situation of the refugees and the violence against Rohingya women, including high levels of sexual violence. The trio will spend time in Dhaka and in refugee camps near Cox's Bazar meeting with female Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh government officials, human rights organizations and diplomats of Canada and other countries based in Dhaka. The delegation builds on more than a decade of work of the Nobel Women's Initiative in the region and with women's rights organizations in Myanmar. Bangladesh is now hosting over one million Rohingyas including around 700,000 new arrivals since August 25, 2017.
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Sunday is the six-month anniversary of the start of the Rohingya crisis, Asia's worst since the Vietnam War. Quoting Tawakkol Karman, Associated Press on Saturday reported that she and her colleagues were standing "in solidarity with displaced Rohingya women and calling for Rohingya women's voices to be heard." She said Rohingya women are twice victimized - for being Rohingya and for being women - and "are affected by the ethnic cleansing and are also subject to high levels of sexual and gender-based violence." "Rohingya women's unique needs are largely unmet in refugee camps in Bangladesh," she said. "Less than 20% of displaced Rohingya women who have survived sexual violence have access to post-rape care." Human Rights Watch has said in a report that Myanmar security forces raped and sexually assaulted women and girls before and during major attacks on villages. Karman said that "accountability and justice" for crimes against the Rohingya people must be a priority for the international community. "The refugee problem stems from the crimes against humanity being committed by the Myanmar military and government against the Rohingya," she said. The laureates will also meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other officials and volunteers during their visit. Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement late last year to start repatriation of the Rohingyas, but the process, which was supposed to start last month, got delayed because of lack of preparation and security concerns. The August violence erupted after an underground insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, attacked security outposts in Myanmar's Rakhine state. In retaliation, the military and Buddhist mobs launched "clearance operations" against the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have long been treated as outsiders in Myanmar, even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless. They are denied freedom of movement and other basic rights. UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi told the United Nations Security Council last week that conditions are not right for the Rohingyas to voluntarily return because Myanmar has not addressed their denial of rights. Grandi also said the Rohingyas are still fleeing Myanmar and thousands more are expected to leave. Meanwhile, a press briefing on the humanitarian response marking the six months of Rohingya influx will be held at 9:30am at Hotel Long Beach, Cox's Bazar on Sunday.