United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has observed that a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis lies in Myanmar.
“The solution to the Rohingya crisis is granting them citizenship in Myanmar,”said the UNHCR chief on Monday in a press briefing, while elaborating on his observations after the conclusion of his visit to Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh.
Praising Bangladesh's humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees, Grandi urged the international community to continue providing support to Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.
After meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he thanked the government and the people of Bangladesh for hosting the refugees for more than three decades, and for providing humanitarian assistance to them.
He noted that despite many challenges of its own, Bangladesh had continued to host the huge Rohingya refugee population for an extended period of time.
While speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, the high commissioner said that he urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to treat all Rohingya refugees equally.
“There should not be categories such as documented, undocumented or new arrivals. All the refugees are coming to Bangladesh with the same problem and for the same reason. So we need to address their problem equally as well,” he said, while citing the dire human rights situation of the Muslim minority in Myanmar.
The head of the UN refugee agency also called upon the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments to ensure a promising future for younger generations of the Rohingya refugees.
He visited the registered Rohingya refugee camp at Kutupalong in Cox's Bazaar and talked to them, especially with young men and women.
“I spoke to people, especially young people in Kutupalong camp. They didn't tell me that they want more food, more blankets and more medicines. They told me ‘give us a future.’ That's the message to both the leaders [Sheikh Hasina and Aung San Suu Kyi],” Grandi told the press.
The UNHCR chief said that his agency will further discuss ways with the Myanmar government in which it can support the process by providing its technical expertise in verifying citizenship.
Responding to a question on the relocation plan of the refugees to an island, he said that two things should be ensured – the creation of opportunities in the place where the refugees will be relocated, and that refugees be relocated voluntarily instead of through force.
In Myanmar, he travelled to Yangon and Naypyitaw as well as Sittwe and Maungdaw in Rakhine State.
He met Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Min Myat Aye, Minister of Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe and Minister of Border Affairs Lt Gen Ye Aung.
He told the press that he had a “very constructive and useful” meeting with Suu Kyi.
He said: “Suu Kyi told me that she also agrees with me, and that she will do whatever possible to implement the recommendations of the advisory commission,” he said and added that the Myanmar government wants “verification” to give the Rohingyas citizenship.
He also informed that the commission led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which had been formed by the Myanmar government, had already given its preliminary report and was expected to release its final report next month.