January 16, 2019

Level UN team meets Burma leader in Rohingya probe

04 May 2018, 09:55 | Rodolfo Wallace

Level UN team meets Burma leader in Rohingya probe

Level UN team meets Burma leader in Rohingya probe

On Tuesday, the 15-member delegation - led by Peru's Ambassador to the UN Gustavo Meza-Cuadra whose country now holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC - is set to visit Rakhine province in western Myanmar, where the had unleashed the offensive following a series of attacks on government posts by Rohingya rebels.

Myanmar says its neighbour has only handed back 8,000 repatriation forms so far, many of them incomplete, delaying the return process.

Earlier on Monday, the United Nations delegation met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh at the end of its three-day visit to the country and expressed concern that progress on resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis was moving slowly.

State television showed the ambassadors touring the border area. Many such villages could be seen from the Myanmar military helicopters that carried the United Nations envoys to northern Rakhine.

The Prime Minister also expressed concern for the Rohingyas in view of the coming monsoons and ordered new homes to be built for them on a nearby island called Bhasan Char, according to an official in Bangladesh's Ministry of Information.

She also suggested that the delegation meet with various communities and civil society organizations in Myanmar. The envoys represent the 15 countries making up the Security Council, the U.N.'s most powerful body. "We will try to convince both engage in constructive negotiations, discussion", he said.

The United Nations General Assembly could alternatively create an worldwide inquiry into the most serious crimes committed against the Rohingya, similar to what the U.N. has done in Syria.

Suu Kyi's office also said in a statement that cooperation was needed from Bangladesh on the repatriation of refugees.

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There were two ways to establish a full probe, "one is an ICC (International Criminal Court) referral", she said. Security Council was ready to assist the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh in solving the refugee crisis.

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They met Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw.

Over 1.15 million registered Rohingyas have been residing in the southeastern part of Bangladesh, known as the Cox's Bazar region, after they fled Myanmar's Rakhine to escape a military crackdown on their villages in August.

He also repeated the official line that Myanmar was ready to take back the refugees who could be verified as residents as per a repatriation deal with Bangladesh.

Hasina had set new humanitarian standards for the worldwide community by giving refuge to the Rohingyas, said United States representative to the Security Council Kelly Currie. "We're trying to tell the story of what's going on there and it's been a hidden genocide for decades". The U.N. refugee agency and Bangladesh recently finalized a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be "safe, voluntary and line with global standards". "There are a lot of agencies apart from the Security Council". On that date, Rohingya activists are alleged to have carried out a deadly attack on security posts, prompting alleged retribution by Myanmar forces and vigilante groups.

In New York, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq noted at a briefing that "around 500,000 Rohingya still live in Rakhine, facing continued discrimination and marginalization, including around 130,000 men, women and children who are trapped in appalling conditions in camps".

"The other thing the Security Council should do is refer the situation in Rakhine state to the International Criminal Court", Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said Friday in a speech to journalists in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. "This is the reality that must be changed if refugees are to be reasonably expected to return".

An worldwide appeal for $951 million for humanitarian aid for the refugees and their host communities was only 10 per cent funded, he added.

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