UNSC visit must break the stalemate
The visit of the delegation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to first Bangladesh and then Myanmar comes at a crucial time when Bangladesh is facing several daunting challenges as it struggles to host over one million Rohingya refuges forced to flee Myanmar's persecution. This is the biggest influx of refugees over the shortest period of time to a country that is already burdened by resource constraints. Now there is worry about providing enough food for them, how to shelter them from possible landslides during the monsoons and, most importantly, how to make Myanmar sincerely honour Bangladesh's and the international community's call for dignified, safe repatriation of the Rohingyas with proper recognition of them as citizens. These are the issues that we expect the UNSC delegation to address during its visit to the two countries—coming up with concrete solutions to the crisis.
The most immediate challenge—providing food—is of great concern as the World Food Programme has so far received donations of USD 45 million, which is only 18 percent of USD 243 million required mainly for providing food to one million Rohingyas and 200,000 locals in Cox's Bazar until December. We are worried that humanitarian aid may actually fall as aid agencies become more involved in other crises in many parts of the world. The UNSC delegation must make sure this does not happen as the lives of more than a million refugees are at stake. They include thousands of the most vulnerable—children, women, elderly and the sick. They must not be forgotten.
The bigger challenge is to focus on the repatriation of these people who are not even recognised as citizens of Myanmar where they have lived for generations and where they were once legal citizens. Even the term "Rohingya" is prohibited by Myanmar in its attempt to deny their very existence. The UNSC therefore must address the issue of safe, dignified repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to their country. This means Myanmar must seriously create a conducive environment for their safe return and official recognition of their citizenship to Myanmar. So far Myanmar has done nothing to warrant reassurance that those prerequisites have been met.
In this precarious situation, we urge the high-powered UNSC delegation to realise the immediacy of resolving the crisis by asking aid agencies to continue their humanitarian support consistently and by creating pressure on Myanmar to comply with the conditions of the repatriation agreement with Bangladesh.