On Tuesday, Bangladesh urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Washington to “keep a close watch on the volatile situation” in the central Rakhine State in hopes of preventing further violence targeting the Rohingya, who are mostly confined in internally displaced person (IDP) camps.
Addressing a special meeting in the Security Council on Myanmar, Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the UN, said Bangladesh was concerned over recurrent reports of arson in Rohingya localities in northern and central Rakhine State. Masud said the reports contradict the claims of normalcy and stabilization in the region.
Masud argued in the meeting that the bilateral repatriation arrangement between the two countries was not expected to address the root causes of the crisis, which has led to what has been termed as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”
“Even if the arrangement is complied with in good faith, it does not necessarily ensure conducive conditions for the refugees for their stay in the medium to long term,” he said.
The ambassador noted that humanitarian agencies had not been granted unfettered and sustained access to Myanmar’s affected population to independently assess their needs and provide comprehensive assistance and protection.
In his address, Hau Do Suan, Myanmar ambassador to the UN, said his government had made its position clear that it will not condone any human rights abuse. “If there is concrete evidence, we are ready to take action against the transgressor in accordance with the law no matter who or what he is,” he said.
Suan said the Myanmar government had embraced the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State as a road map to solving root causes of the problem and achieving sustainable peace and development for all.
He further explained that the government was committed to implementing the recommendations made by the Advisory Commission as well as other recommendations made by the Maugtaw Region Investigation Commission.
The Myanmar ambassador objected to the “discriminatory and selective” application of overlapping action against Myanmar in the name of human rights under the various UN mechanisms.
As per Jonathan Allen, Britain’s deputy ambassador to the UN, over the past month some steps have been taken by the Burmese Government in response to Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council.
“In particular the recent agreement concerning the voluntary repatriation of refugees, signed by the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh on 23 November,” said Allen.
The deputy ambassador said the rights of the Rohingya must be respected by the Myanmar government, including freedom of movement and access to basic services and livelihoods. Allen stressed on the Rohingya refugees being allowed to return home, meaning not prolonged stays in IDP camps but rather a clear pathway to citizenship.
“The responsibility for making progress lies primarily with the government and security forces of Myanmar. And the actions they must take are already set out in the Presidential Statement agreed unanimously by this Council,” Jonathan said.
In her address, Pramila Patten, special representative of the secretary-general for sexual violence in conflict, recounted her recent visit to Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh. Pramila elaborated on how sexual violence was being used as a push factor for forced displacement on a massive scale, with some survivors being told to leave because they were not citizens of Myanmar.
At the meeting, Jeffrey Feltman, under‑secretary‑general for political affairs, reported that new Rohingya refugees continued to arrive in Bangladesh despite reports of subsiding violence in the Rakhine state. Feltman said 36,000 unaccompanied children were among the new arrivals.
He welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the return of Rohingya refugees and said he was encouraged by the announcement that the Advisory Commission and the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations of Rakhine State would meet in January.
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, called on Myanmar to allow unhindered access to all humanitarian agents and organisations.