UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

UNHCR/Andrew Mconnell Rohingya refugees wait for a food distribution in Kutupalong camp, Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Despite the efforts made by the United Nations over the past year to help create safeguards for all communities in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, it is clear that conditions are still not suitable for the safe, voluntary, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their home, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday.

The UN chief was briefing the Security Council on the situation in Myanmar, where 12 months ago a military operation in northern Rakhine state sparked an exodus of desperate Rohingya refugees that quickly became one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crises.

Mr. Guterres’ remarks also follow the release of an independent UN investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against the mainly Muslim Rohingya and which called for the country’s military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and war crimes.

Cate Blanchett, the Academy Award winning actor and Goodwill Ambassador for the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and Tegegnework Gettu, Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) also addressed the briefing, which was chaired by Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN for the United Kingdom, which currently holds the presidency of the Security Council.

Over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to ramshackle refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area, Bangladesh after being forced from their homes by a military operation which UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein compared, at the time, to ethnic cleansing.

Mr. Guterres, recounting his experience of visiting the camps this past July, said that he had heard stories of horrendous persecution and suffering.

UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Myanmar. The meeting commemorates the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Rohingya crisis in 2017.

“One father broke down as he told me how his son was shot dead in front of him.  His mother was brutally murdered and his house burned to the ground. He took refuge in a mosque only to be discovered by soldiers who abused him and burned the Quran,” he said.

One distraught woman gestured to a mother cradling her young baby who was conceived as a result of rape and told me: “We need security in Myanmar and citizenship.  And we want justice for what our sisters, our daughters, our mothers have suffered.’”

Ms. Blanchett, who visited Bangladesh last year at the invitation of the UNHCR, said she had witnessed similar scenes, and “nothing could have prepared me for the extent and depth of suffering I saw… I have heard gut-wrenching accounts…of grave torture, of women brutally violated, people whose loved ones have been killed before their eyes.”

UN Photo/Manuel Elias
Cate Blanchett, Goodwill Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Myanmar.

“I am a mother, and I saw my children in the eyes of every refugee child I met. I saw myself in every parent. How can any mother endure seeing her child thrown into a fire?” she asked the Council.

The trigger for the military crackdown one year ago was a series of attacks on Myanmar security forces by insurgents that were immediately condemned by the Secretary-General. Mr. Guterres said that the disproportionate use of force against civilian populations and the gross human rights violations that followed, could never be justified.

Since then, despite his direct engagement with the Myanmar authorities, and the launch of several UN system initiatives on the ground, the Secretary General has expressed concern regarding the dramatic humanitarian and human rights situations, as well as the risks to regional peace and security of further degeneration.

This engagement includes the advancement of a policy of engagement and unified action to defuse tensions and build trust, and the appointment of Christine Schraner as Special Envoy on Myanmar, which has led to a process of broad consultations with the Government, military, civil society and women’s groups.

Mr. Guterres said that, despite the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Myanmar authorities and UN agencies in June, the country’s leaders have not made the investment in reconstruction, reconciliation and respect for human rights necessary for all communities to live improved and resilient lives in Rakhine state.

UNDP’s Mr. Gettu said the agency shares international concerns about the situation in Rakhine and the plight of the Rohingya, and he emphasised the need to address Rakhine’s significant development challenges and to lift restrictions on free movement and access to services.

The UNDP, UNHCR and other UN agencies have been implementing the MOU, and working in Rakhine to put a wide-ranging development and humanitarian assistance initiative in place with support from major donors. He underlined that addressing the needs of the refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, is also of primary importance.

UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Tegegnework Gettu, Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), briefs the Security Council meeting on the situation in Myanmar.

Mr. Guterres asked the Security Council to urge Myanmar’s leaders to ensure immediate, unimpeded and effective access for the Organization’s agencies and partners, and release journalists arrested for reporting on the human tragedy.

He added that there can be no excuse for delaying the search for dignified solutions that will allow people to return home, and benefit from freedom of movement, an end to discrimination and the re-establishment of the rule of law.

His call for action was amplified by Ms. Blanchett, who said that “the focus of all our efforts must be to provide much-needed support inside Bangladesh while working to ensure conditions in Myanmar are conducive to return.”

Mr. Guterres concluded with a call for accountability as an essential prerequisite for regional security and stability, and for the Security Council to give serious consideration to the report released on Monday by the UN-appointed Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar.

He added that effective, international cooperation will be “critical to ensuring that accountability mechanisms are credible, transparent, impartial, independent and comply with Myanmar’s obligations under international law.”

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to ‘achieve their full potential’ says UN chief

Microsoft says the internet is getting a little nicer

EU food watchdog: more transparency, better risk prevention

More state aid to big firms, no special provisions for the SMEs

UN experts report: Business ‘dragging its feet’ on human rights worldwide

Global ageing is a challenge – and an opportunity

EFSF/ESM boss tells half truths about Troika’s doings

Nearly two-thirds of children lack access to welfare safety net, risking ‘vicious cycle of poverty’

New rules for temporary border controls within the Schengen area

How ducks are helping Bangladeshi farmers cope with cyclones

We must build resilience to face the future – but will we be fast enough?

Anti-vaccers: does the empty can rattle the most?

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

MEPs want robust EU cyber defence and closer ties with NATO

Harnessing the power of nature in the fight against climate change

World ‘not yet on track’ to ensure children a better future: UN rights chief

The sun’s impact on Earth and weather celebrated, as planet marks World Meteorological Day

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

Better Regulation principles: at the heart of the EU’s decision-making process

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

Climate change is speeding up. Our response needs to be even faster

Horse meat runs faster than authorities…

Nigeria: Top UN officials say more support needed to ease humanitarian crisis and rebuild lives in conflict-ravaged north-east

Radioactive nuclear waste is a global threat. These scientists may have a new solution

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

The financial future of Eurozone on the agenda of Friday’s ECOFIN council

Why the 33,000 staff European Commission did not have a real contingency plan for the refugee crisis?

EU Commission spends billions without achieving targets

Youth for Climate Change

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Ban Ki-Moon Closing Address at COP21 Action Day Innovation, Imagination, Faster Climate Action

Eurozone: New data show recession and debt closer to explosion

First Western Sahara talks at UN in six years, begin in Geneva

A Europe that Protects: Commission calls for continued action to eradicate trafficking in human beings

Presidents of pan-European youth organisations call upon the European Council to preserve the Schengen principles

Out with the old: Young People transforming Humanitarian Action

Security Council hails ‘historic and significant’ joint peace declaration by Ethiopia and Eritrea

Environment Committee MEPs push for cleaner trucks and electric buses

7 key challenges for the future of ASEAN – and how to solve them

WHO and IFMSA as transcendent pillars for world improvement

“A divided Europe is not in China’s interests”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU welcomes Brussels

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

Britain’s May won the first round on the Brexit agreement with the EU

Commission makes it easier for citizens to access health data securely across borders

Tsipras bewildered with Berlin’s humiliating demands; ECB expects political sign to refinance the Greek banks

More than 750 million people around the world would migrate if they could

Fighting cybercrime – what happens to the law when the law cannot be enforced?

The inhumane face of crisis mirrored in numbers

Long live Eurozone’s bank supervisor down with the EU budget supremo

‘Critical test’ for North Korea’s Government as civilian suffering remains rife, warns UN rights expert

Following the World Cup? Then you’re watching high-performing migrants at work

How telehealth can get healthcare to more people

The secret weapon in the fight for sustainability? The humble barcode

Cyclone Idai: emergency getting ‘bigger by the hour’, warns UN food agency

European Youth Forum and youngest MEPs call on President Juncker to keep his promise to Europe’s youth

Falsified medicines: new rules to enhance patients’ safety

UK’s Cameron takes the field to speed up TTIP talks. Will “rocket boosters” work?

Trailing the US-EU economic confrontation

Logo Mania: A call to action to our crisis of connection

Banks, insurance giants are free again to abuse the real economy

Who will win the AI race? If countries work together, then the answer could be all of us

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s