UNHCR for se­cur­ing fu­ture of young refugees in Bangladesh

The UNHCR chief said he is very “im­pressed” for be­ing able to meet both Sheikh Hasina and Aung San Suu Kyi, and de­scribed them “strong and clear minded vi­sion­ary women”. Re­call­ing that both of their fa­thers were killed, he said the two lead­ers are very co

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Sid­dique Is­lam

Dhaka, Bangladesh - UN refugee agency has urged the top lead­er­ships of Bangladesh and Myan­mar to se­cure the fu­ture of younger gen­er­a­tion of the Ro­hingya refugees through re­solv­ing the prob­lem im­me­di­ately.

The United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Fil­lippo Grandi made the ap­peal at a press con­fer­ence held in the cap­i­tal Dhaka on July 10 on the con­clu­sion of his 10-day visit to Myan­mar, Thai­land and Bangladesh.

The UNHCR chief also called upon the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to con­tinue their sup­port to Bangladesh over Ro­hingya refugees with re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion say­ing the so­lu­tion to the prob­lem lies with Myan­mar.

Mr. Grandi put em­pha­sis on im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cit­i­zen­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion process “ef­fi­ciently and rapidly” which will help un­block all the re­main­ing bar­ri­ers to the so­lu­tion.

He also said they have tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise in ver­i­fy­ing cit­i­zen­ship, and they will fur­ther dis­cuss with Myan­mar gov­ern­ment how they can sup­port in this process.

Ear­lier on the day, the UNUCR chief vis­ited the reg­is­tered Ro­hingya refugee camp at Ku­tu­pa­long in the coun­try’s south­east­ern Cox’s Bazaar dis­trict 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 I want more food, more blan­kets and more medicines. They told me - give us a fu­ture. That’s the mes­sage to both lead­ers [Sheikh Hasina and Aung San Suu Kyi],” Mr. Grandi said while re­ply­ing to a query from the Mizzima cor­re­spon­dent.

The UNHCR chief said he is very “im­pressed” for be­ing able to meet both Sheikh Hasina and Aung San Suu Kyi, and de­scribed them “strong and clear minded vi­sion­ary women”.

Re­call­ing that both of their fa­thers were killed, he said the two lead­ers are very com­mit­ted to a very good fu­ture of their re­spec­tive coun­tries.

Re­cent po­lit­i­cal change in Myan­mar and ef­forts be­ing made so far “should make us lit­tle bit of hope­ful that we have not been in the past,” the UNCHR chief ex­plained.

Re­fer­ring to his visit to Myan­mar, he said sit­u­a­tion of hu­man rights for Mus­lim mi­nor­ity in Rakhine state ‘is very dire’ with no cit­i­zen­ship, no free­dom of move­ment, no free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion and no free­dom of con­gre­ga­tion. “In­crease mal­nu­tri­tion and in­creased ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rates are wor­ry­ing sig­nals.”

The in­flux of Ro­hingya refugees be­gan anew in Oc­to­ber last year when Myan­mar mil­i­tary launched a so-called coun­terin­sur­gency drive in Rakhine state as the re­li­gious mi­nor­ity group claimed that they were tor­tured at their home­land and was forced to cross the bor­der.

At least 74,000 mi­nor­ity Mus­lims, out of 92,000, widely known as Ro­hingyas, en­tered Bangladesh since Oc­to­ber 9, 2016, ac­cord­ing to the UNHCR es­ti­mates.

About 30,000 reg­is­tered Myan­mar Ro­hingyas are now liv­ing in Bangladesh. But of­fi­cials es­ti­mated the ac­tual num­ber is more than 400,000.

Re­ply­ing to a ques­tion on the plan to re­lo­cate Ro­hingya peo­ple to an is­land, Mr. Grandi said re­lo­ca­tion of refugees ‘hap­pen in many coun­tries’. “But re­lo­ca­tion should be in places with op­por­tu­ni­ties and the process should be vol­un­tary.”

On the repa­tri­a­tion process, he laid stress on cre­at­ing a con­ducive and peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment in Rakhine State of Myan­mar to make their re­turn sus­tain­able.The best so­lu­tion for them, the UNHCR sug­gests, “is to go back to their coun­try, peace­fully, vol­un­tar­ily, and in a con­di­tion that per­mits the re­turn…not as re­turn as they did in the past, and af­ter few years peo­ple were obliged to flee again. They need sus­tain­able re­turn.”

Mean­while, Bangladesh has urged the UNHCR to ask the gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar to take ‘mean­ing­ful mea­sures’ and en­sure the re­turn of all Myan­mar na­tion­als stay­ing in Bangladesh to their home­land in Rakhine State.It has also ex­pressed con­cern over ‘uni­lat­eral halt’ of the repa­tri­a­tion process by the gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar since 2005 even though 10,820 refugees had been cleared by both coun­tries through a ver­i­fi­ca­tion process.

For­eign Min­is­ter of Bangladesh AH Mah­mood Ali con­veyed Bangladesh’s po­si­tion to the UNHCR chief dur­ing his meet­ing in the cap­i­tal Dhaka on Satur­day.

The for­eign min­is­ter stressed that con­stant pres­ence of the huge num­ber of Myan­mar na­tion­als in Cox’s Bazar dis­trict has cre­ated a num­ber of ad­verse ef­fects on the over­all so­cio-eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, de­mo­graphic, en­vi­ron­men­tal, and hu­man­i­tar­ian and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion of Cox’s Bazar and ad­ja­cent dis­tricts.

The UNHCR chief also met with Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs of Bangladesh Asaduz­za­man Khan dur­ing his visit.

Mr Grandi, right, talks with a refugee in a camp in Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR

Mr Grandi, cen­tre, on his visit to a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR

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