Dhaka for safe, sustainable return of all
Bangladesh has called for measures to ensure safe, voluntary and sustainable return of all the people displaced from Myanmar into its territory over the years, including those displaced recently.
"Bangladesh looks forward to immediately start working with Myanmar and the international community to help implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State," said Masud Bin Momen, ambassador and permanent representative of Bangladesh to the UN.
He was addressing a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on the "Situation in Myanmar" early yesterday.
The envoy said Bangladesh continues to exercise utmost restraint in the face of repeated, unwarranted and willful provocations by Myanmar. "As a responsible and responsive state, we shall forge ahead seeking a peaceful and lasting solution to this protracted situation through diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a five-point proposal at the UN General Assembly last week. The proposal has largely been echoed by the UN secretary-general and the UNSC members, he told the meeting in New York.
"Pursuant to those points, the immediate priorities should be to cease all forms of violence and ensure protection and humanitarian assistance for those affected or vulnerable in Rakhine State," Momen added.
He said Bangladesh prefers a joint verification process in the presence of international observers. "The forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals should return to their places of original abode in safety, security and dignity."
Reiterating Hasina's stance, the envoy said the crisis has its roots in Myanmar and its solution has to be found there.
He said Bangladesh, however, remains committed to engaging with Myanmar and the international community for the resolution of this critical issue.
"Our experience over the last three decades makes it obvious that the bilateral track loses its momentum as soon as the international community shifts its attention elsewhere.
"We, therefore, urge this Council to keep this issue alive in its agenda and make sure that we manage to arrive to the point of its logical conclusion. We also invite the Council members to conduct a field mission to Bangladesh and possibly to Myanmar to gather first-hand accounts of the unfolding humanitarian crisis," he told the UNSC.
The ambassador extended sincere appreciation and gratitude to all the UNSC members for showing support to Bangladesh.
According to the UN, over half a million people have entered Bangladesh fleeing violence in Rakhine since August 25.
Despite serious constrains, Bangladesh has given shelter to these distressed Rohingyas, mostly women and children.
"We are providing these forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals with basic and emergency humanitarian assistance. The international community has come forward in the spirit of sharing responsibility, although the UN and other relevant partners are stretched beyond their capacity," said Momen.
Bangladesh is also carrying out biometric registration of the Rohingyas.
With the latest influx, Bangladesh is currently hosting over 900,000 Rohingyas. "This is an untenable situation, to say the least," the envoy said.
According to the ambassador, the indiscriminate killing and torture by the Myanmar security forces, aided by vigilante groups acting on religious and ethnic affiliation, has already been cited as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" by the UN high commissioner for human rights.
Under the circumstances, Momen said, it is of utmost importance that the remaining Rohingya civilians in Rakhine were guaranteed unconditional protection by creating UN-administered "safe zones" inside Myanmar.
It must also be ensured that humanitarian assistance reaches all affected communities, in particular to the Rohingyas. Myanmar must ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access to the UN and other humanitarian agencies, he mentioned.
"There is perhaps no taker for the baseless and malicious propaganda to project Rohingyas as 'illegal immigrants from Bangladesh'. This is not only a blatant denial of the ethnic identity of the Rohingyas, but also an affront to Bangalees all over the world. This has to stop," Momen said.
The envoy called upon the UNSC to take into account that more than two divisions of armed forces had been reportedly deployed by Myanmar in areas near the Bangladesh border since the first week of August.
Troops were spotted within 200 metres of the zero line, and heavy armaments and artillery were reportedly placed in close proximity of the Bangladesh border, he said.
There have been 19 reported incidents of Bangladesh's air space violation by Myanmar helicopters and drones, the envoy mentioned.
He said anti-personnel mines have reportedly been laid along the stretch of the border to prevent the return of Rohingyas to Myanmar and there have been incidents of firing on Bangladeshi fishermen, resulting in death of one.