UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman has said the ‘origins and solutions to the Rohingya crisis rest in Myanmar’.
“Repatriation and reconciliation policies will fail without accountability and non-discriminatory rule of law and public safety measures to address the fears and distrust among communities in Rakhine,” he said.
Briefing on developments in Myanmar at UN Security Council on Tuesday, Feltman said the United Nations can help Myanmar to defuse inter-communal tensions and create an environment for safe and dignified repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
“Myanmar could also tap the UN’s capacities and experience in tackling other challenges, including democratic consolidation…We hope Myanmar will draw upon the wealth of expertise the UN can offer,” he added.
Expressing gratitude to Bangladesh government for its continued generosity to give shelter of over 626,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals, he urged international community to continue to support these efforts, according to a message received here today.
During his deliberations, Feltman highlighted the bilateral agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar for a comprehensive and durable solution through safe, dignified, and voluntary return in accordance with international law.
“The returns must be supported by reconciliation efforts, and central to this is the implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations,” he added.
The Advisory Commission, established by Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, recommends that the government take concrete steps, such as ending enforced segregation of Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims and ensuring full and unfettered humanitarian access throughout Rakhine state.
Feltman said that during his October visit, he explored with the authorities potential UN support in key areas.
“We urge all Myanmar leaders, including in the military, to condemn incitement to racial hatred and violence. We encourage them to adopt measures to defuse tensions between communities and create an environment for safe and dignified repatriation, including through interfaith initiatives,” he said.
He noted that the General Assembly is expected to approve a resolution that requests the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Envoy for Myanmar.
This initiative can strengthen the partnership between the UN and Myanmar, in close consultations with interested Member States in the region and beyond.
“We believe we have much to offer in working with Myanmar on a number of challenges the country faces, in full respect of Myanmar’s sovereignty,” he concluded.
Today’s meeting is a follow-up to the Council’s presidential statement on the situation in Myanmar adopted on November 6, which requested the Secretary-General to brief on developments 30 days after its adoption.
Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who visited Bangladesh from November 5 to 13 also briefed the Council.
Describing “the most heartbreaking and horrific” accounts of sexual atrocities against girls and women in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, she said that every woman or girl she had spoken with during her visit to Rohingya encampments in Bangladesh had either endured brutal assault or had witnessed sexual violence, including seeing women literally being raped to death.
Such shocking accounts indicate a pattern of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, he said.
He added, “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”.
It was crucial that safe return of the Rohingya people be accompanied by basic security and guaranteed rights, stated Ms. Patten, emphasizing that otherwise, the cycle of violence, impunity and forced displacement risked being repeated if the underlying conditions did not change.
Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Ambassador Masud Bin Momen also spoke and described Bangladesh’s position on Rohingya crisis.