The nature of the foreign minister’s outburst against the UN, both abrasive and devoid of diplomatic suaveness, has shocked and surprised us. What has happened for the UN to deserve literally being shown the door, if the world body did not accede to the Bangladesh government’s plan to relocate a segment of the refugees to Bhashan Char, is unknown to us.
We wonder what motivated such an abrasive comment that sounded very much like an ultimatum. Given the tone and tenor of the comment, by way of response to a question from Deutsche Welle, one cannot help but get the impression that our current relationship with the UN is indeed in a very bad shape.
There is no doubt that the UN has not quite lived up to our expectations. All of the efforts, through the UN Security Council, to address the matter was effectively blocked by China. And the other important Myanmar neigbour, India, though has been forthcoming with humanitarian aid, has done very little of substance in terms of bringing pressure on Naypyidaw.
As for the resettlement plan, we understand that the Bhashan Char project was drawn up independently without prior consultations with our development partners or the UN. But be that as it may, why does the government need a thumbs-up from the UN to go ahead with the plan if it feels that is in the best interest of the country? But we fail to understand to what extent the current situation will be ameliorated by relocating only less than ten percent of the refugees. How will we solve the problem involving the remaining 90 percent? And with whose help?
It will be well to remember that a diplomat thinks twice before saying nothing and judges all its implications before saying anything. We would like to think that our foreign minister really did not mean what he said and also remind him that in the absence of support from China, Russia and India, the UN remains our best hope to move ahead, howsoever slowly, with resolving the Rohingya problem. Let us not forget that the UN may not be the most effective world body, but it is the only one we have.