MYANMAR: The United Nations on Friday stressed that refugees fleeing conflict should be granted safe haven after Bangladesh declared that it would no longer take in Myanmar’s Rohingya.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the Security Council on Thursday that the refugee crisis had gone from “bad to worse” and deplored the fact that none of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya sheltering in his country had returned home.
“Bangladesh has been amazingly generous in the support they have given the Rohingya refugees,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“It is important that people fleeing conflict are able to find safe haven wherever they go.”
Under a deal reached with Bangladesh, Myanmar agreed to take back some of the refugees, but the United Nations insists that the safety of the Rohingya be a condition for their return.
Haque told a council meeting on Myanmar that “Bangladesh would no longer be in a position to accommodate more people from Myanmar”, suggesting that his government was ready to close the border to refugees.
Around 740,000 Muslim Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh after they were driven out of Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state during a military campaign in 2017 that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.
“Is Bangladesh paying the price for being responsive and responsible in showing empathy to a persecuted minority population of a neighbouring country?” asked the foreign secretary.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is conducting an internal review of the world body’s operations in Myanmar following accusations that UN officials in the country ignored warning signs of the attacks against the Rohingya.
The UN spokesman said the review led by Guatemalan diplomat Gert Rosenthal was to provide “possible lessons learned for the future” and advise on the way forward.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper first reported on the inquiry on Tuesday that will focus on the UN’s failure to prevent the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
Some of the criticism has focussed on allegations that the UN resident coordinator, Renata Lok-Dessallien, downplayed concerns about worsening abuses against the Rohingya and sought to prioritise economic development at the expense of human rights.
The UN has denied those claims.