Myanmar needs to engage with UN, Bangladesh
The UN Security Council has called upon Myanmar and Bangladesh to invite the UN refugee agency and other relevant international organisations to participate fully in a joint working group to allow voluntary return of all the Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar.
In a statement issued on Monday, the UNSC urged the Myanmar government to end the excessive military force and intercommunal violence that had devastated the Rohingya community in Rakhine State.
It also called for implementing the agreed‑upon mechanisms to assist return of those who have fled Rakhine and to ensure access for humanitarian aid.
"The Security Council remains determined to continue to closely follow the situation in Myanmar and requests the Secretary‑General to brief the Security Council on developments on the situation in Rakhine after 30 days from the adoption of this statement," said the statement.
The UNSC called upon the Myanmar government to work with the government of Bangladesh and the UN to implement the commitment to establish the Joint Working Group (JWG) and to expedite the voluntary return of all internally displaced people to their homes in Myanmar.
Sebastiano Cardi of Italy, UNSC president for November, read out the statement at a meeting of the council on Monday.
With this, the UNSC again failed to adopt a resolution to press for an end to the excessive use of military force on Rohingyas in the face of strong opposition from China.
The UN body on September 13 had issued another statement, expressing deep concern about violence in Rakhine.
On October 2, Dhaka and Naypyidaw had agreed to set up a JWG to facilitate the repatriation of Rohingyas, but they failed to do so as Myanmar wanted to solve the crisis bilaterally without including the UN in the joint group.
The development came during Myanmar Union Minister Kyaw Tint Swe's visit to Dhaka. He expressed his country's willingness to take back the "displaced residents" and proposed following the principle and criteria agreed upon in the 1992 Joint Statement.
Bangladesh had signed the joint statement with the State Law and Order Restoration Council of Myanmar on April 28, 1992 under which Myanmar agreed to take back those refugees who could "establish their bona fide residency in Myanmar" prior to their departure for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said Dhaka didn't agree to Naypyidaw's proposal about following the principle and criterion of the 1992 deal.
He said the criterion was "not realistic" and the situations of 1992 and 2017 were entirely different.
The UNSC in Monday's statement welcomed Myanmar's decision to establish the "Union Enterprise Mechanism" for humanitarian assistance, resettlement and development in Rakhine. It also lauded the government commitment to ensure that humanitarian assistance and development work undertaken by the Union Enterprise Mechanism is provided for the benefit of all communities in Rakhine without discrimination and regardless of religion or ethnicity.
It further urged the Myanmar government to ensure the Union Enterprise Mechanism supports the voluntary, safe and dignified return of displaced individuals and refugees to their homes in Rakhine, and to allow UN agencies to operate with full access in Rakhine.
"The Security Council calls upon the government of Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State by respecting, promoting and protecting human rights, without discrimination and regardless of ethnicity or religion, including by allowing freedom of movement, equal access to basic services, and equal access to full citizenship for all individuals.
"The Security Council welcomes the government of Myanmar's public commitment to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State chaired by Kofi Annan, as well as the establishment of a ministerial‑level committee to implement the recommendations."
The UNSC stressed the importance of undertaking transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children, and of holding to account all those responsible for such acts to provide justice for victims.
It also called upon the Myanmar government to urgently grant domestic and international media organisations full and unhindered access to Rakhine and ensure the safety and security of media personnel.
Over six lakh forcibly displaced Rohingyas have taken shelter in Bangladesh since the Myanmar army launched a crackdown on the ethnic minority group on August 25.