Take back Rohingyas
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat has called on Myanmar to immediately end the violence in Rakhine state, restore peace and stability there and take back the Rohingyas.
She said the US welcomes Aung San Suu Kyi's announcement to take back those who fled to Bangladesh. "We encourage the government to act quickly on this commitment while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of returnees," she added.
Mentioning the recommendations made by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan-led advisory commission, she said the US feels those should be followed and those lay out a good roadmap for a lasting solution to the complex problem.
"Fortunately a road map already exist, the advisory report by the Annan commission which Aung San Suu Kyi says she was ready to implement already exists … so there is a blueprint already available, in fact all of these occurred just after the report was released … .
"We want that the recommendations should be implemented to find a lasting solution to the complex and delicate issues in Rakhine," she said adding, "This is an issue that cannot be resolved bilaterally, so I suggest for a quiet diplomacy."
The US ambassador said her country was continuously urging the Myanmar government to grant international humanitarian organisations access so that they could help the people in Rakhine state.
On Suu Kyi speech about taking back the Rohingyas, Bernicat said, "We have a number of diplomatic efforts to support these calls to Suu Kyi and the military in Burma. We also have several interventions in the UN already. The secretary of state spoke to Suu Kyi over phone and an assistant secretary of state travelled to Burma. The vice-president also spoke in the UN."
Unless the violence was stopped, it would only get worse, she said while talking to a small group of journalists at the American Club in Dhaka.
Describing the Rohingya exodus, she said the violence and human rights abuses in Rakhine forced a huge number of people, a large percentage of whom were women, children and the elderly and women who left their homes on the verge of giving birth, to seek shelter in Bangladesh in just a 15-day period.
The Rohingyas moved under perilous conditions, under threat and in the midst of a very aggressive monsoon season, she said.
Bernicat said cases of human rights abuse and violence calls for actions from the US government, especially in the form of not offering assistance to the military and security forces.
Right now the emphasis lies on encouraging and facilitating the Myanmar government to fulfil its commitment to honour the report of the Annan commission.
Responding to a question about the role of India and China, she said India has just concluded their energy share deal with Myanmar while China has business interests there. For all of these things to happen and "help each country's economy we need stability", she said.
"Other countries like Japan, South Korea and anyone who is looking to invest in this region will have an interest in seeing this region stable."
Bernicat said the US state department announced Thursday that the US would be providing nearly $32 million in additional humanitarian assistance to address the urgent needs of the Rohingyas fleeing the Rakhine State.
Of the money, $28.5 million was going to various agencies, UN agencies and international NGOs who are working for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh. The remaining $3.5 million would go to support the Rohingyas displaced within Myanmar.
"We are expecting $4 to $5 million more in food assistance," she said, adding, "The total US aid will be nearly $95 million in fiscal year 2017.
"Our colleagues at the Centre for Diseases Control and at ICDDR,B are also taking steps to bring in health experts to work alongside the government officials to make sure no disease breaks out among the people."
The funding "reflects the US commitment to help address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya people".
She added that the US hoped its contribution would encourage other countries to provide more funding.
Bernicat said the US diplomats were working hard to find agreements and methodologies which could be applied to resolve the current crisis and help Myanmar keep its commitment to take back its people.
Bernicat said people of Myanmar have elected a government but everybody recognises that the military role remains strong. "Now to become a democracy you need to be accountable to the people who live within your borders, and Rohingya people have been living in Burma for a very long time," she said.
The US ambassador said the US officials have urged Suu Kyi to investigate the human rights abuses in Rakhine state and hold those responsible.
"…what happened in Burma in the last year, in the last decades, something that has been directed by the government, some things by the security forces, by a few rogue actors within, these are all the questions that a responsible government needs to answer," she added.
People become vulnerable to extremism when they are subjected to violence, the US ambassador said, adding "The Burmese army has to remember the actions in the last fall and this summer by parts by their security forces."
"If we have learnt anything about extremism in the last decade in our war against terrorism, it is that you cannot end it simply with military actions. There are ample evidence to support that violence only creates more opportunities for more violence … ."
It is very important for Suu Kyi to convince the Myanmar army and security forces that their job is to keep the country safe and that their actions against the people will only make Myanmar less safe, she said.