UN Council chief calls for action on Myanmar Rohingya refugees
05:24 PM, May 05, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:51 PM, May 05, 2018

UN Council chief calls for action on Rohingya refugees

Ambassador Joanna Wronecka of Poland, this month's UN Security Council president, has said that the United Nations has to act when Rohingya refugees are suffering.

She made the remarks UN headquarters on Thursday after visiting Myanmar Rohingya in Bangladesh refugee camps earlier this week, reports Xinhua News Agency.

"So, when you see the people suffering we have to act," she told reporters at the UN headquarters during a monthly briefing on the council's program of work. "The main question is how to help."

"It is difficult to live in the camps," she said. "The conditions are extremely difficult because in Bangladesh due to the monsoon season there is always a risk for raining, so the conditions are simple."

Monsoon rains already have started and have caused flooding in some areas, threatening the spread of disease and impeding the distribution of humanitarian aid.

"I had the chance to speak especially to women because they are the most affected with the children -- to see their difficult situation," said Wronecka who was visibly moved. "But the refugees cannot stay forever. It was obvious. So the question is how to help them return to their place of origin."

The Warsaw envoy said members of the panel of 15 then met with Myanmar State Councilor Aung Sang Su Kyi. Wronecka recalled Bangladesh and Myanmar had signed an agreement on the return of refugees. However, the United Nations has been saying refugees should only return voluntarily when they are ready to go where they want to go in a dignified manner.

"Now, the main question is how we can help especially in the monsoon period," said Wronecka. "We see a possibility more for the role of different UN agencies to help."

She particularly singled out the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). While Wronecka said council members had "a very frank" discussion with Myanmar authorities she did not go into any detail.

More than 670,000 ethnic Muslim Rohingya have fled northern Rakhine State since Aug. 25, 2017. On that date Rohingya activists are alleged to have carried out a deadly attack on security posts, prompting alleged retribution by Myanmar forces and vigilante groups.

The latest refugees joined hundreds of thousands of mainly Rohingya refugees who previously fled Myanmar across the border into neighboring Bangladesh.

Wronecka said when the Security Council meets on May 14 for a formal briefing on the situation, she said it was possible the panel "may adopt a PRST" since "we are united, definitely committed to doing something because the people on the ground (the refugees) deserve it and the people suffer a lot."

A PRST is a step below a resolution which carries the weight of international law. A PRST is read out by the president in a formal Security Council meeting and becomes an official document of the world organization.

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