National and international rights groups on Saturday said it was Myanmar’s responsibility to take the Rohingyas, who fled to Bangladesh from violence in Rakhine state, back to their homeland with safety and dignity.
International aid groups in messages, marking the first anniversary of the crisis, also said that the Rohingyas were living in dire camps, facing an uncertain future and legal limbo.
They said it was collective international responsibility to protect them and find solutions to their problem.
Since August 25, 2017,
more than 7.20 lakh Rohingyas, fleeing violence and systemic discrimination in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have found shelter and safety in Cox’s Bazar.
There they joined an estimated four lakh Rohingyas from previous waves of influxes fuelled by intimidation of Myanmar government and army since 1978.
New York-based Human Rights Watch in a statement mentioned that a few days shy of August 25 Myanmar’s de facto leader Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said it was up to Bangladesh ‘to decide how quickly they want the [refugee repatriation] process to be completed.’
‘Wrong. It is not up to Bangladesh. The Myanmar government bears responsibility for the Rohingya refugee crisis,’ HRW director, refugee rights programme, Bill Frelick said.
‘Resolving it [crisis] will necessitate fundamental changes in Myanmar, such as mechanisms in place to ensure the Rohingya’s rights and safety, as preconditions for the refugees to go home,’ he added.
Bangladeshi women rights group Naripokkho in a statement said that it was Myanmar’s responsibility to repatriate the 10 lakh Rohingyas, who took shelter in Bangladesh, with citizenship, safety and dignity.
All international powers and the United Nations should continue putting pressure on Myanmar government to expedite the repatriation process, it added.
Cox’s Bazar-based civil rights activists, under the banner of Cox’s Bazar Civil Society Organisation, formed a human chain in in capital, demanding repatriation of the Rohingyas with safely and security.
Bangladesh should strengthen its diplomatic efforts and adopt multilateral approaches rather than the bilateral one so that Myanmar could not prolong the repatriation process, they stressed.
Bangladesh government’s Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner and a combine of UN agencies and international aid groups, Inter Sector Coordination Group, also issued a statement Saturday evening.
In it, they called for a long-term and voluntary solution to Rohingya displacement and demanded that the world must renew its financial commitments to the humanitarian response.
Commitments made today, up to the end of this year and beyond, will shape the futures of the Rohingya and the host community as well as that of the wider region, they observed.
Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors without Borders, in a statement on Friday night said that the denial of the Rohingyas’ legal status, coupled with unacceptable living conditions, continued to trap refugees in a cycle of sufferings and poor health.
Pavlo Kolovos, MSF head of mission in Bangladesh, said, ‘The infrastructure to meet even the most basic needs of the population is still not in place, and that seriously affects people’s wellbeing.’
Donors and governments with influence over the government of Myanmar failed to show the necessary leadership by not pressuring it to end persecution against the Rohingyas, which was the cause of their displacement, the statement said.
International Organisation for Migration in a statement the same night said that the Rohingyas once again stood on the verge of another disaster if more funding could not be secured.
‘We must not underestimate the dangers the Rohingya refugees still face. One year from the start of the crisis, they must not be forgotten,’ Giorgi Gigauri, IOM’s chief of mission in Bangladesh, said.
‘These people have survived almost unimaginable suffering. The international community must not now turn its back and allow the Rohingya to be plunged into yet another tragedy,’ he noted.
World Health Organisation in a statement on Friday said that despite efforts form Bangladesh, WHO and health partners, the Rohingyas remained vulnerable even today with their evolving health needs and severe funding crunch.
‘We have done things that collectively we can be proud of. However, we need to continue to support the health needs of this vulnerable population and remain vigilant against the spread of diseases,’ WHO’s deputy director-general for Emergency Preparedness and Response Dr Peter Salama said.
UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday called on the international community to step up its support for the stateless Rohingyas and show solidarity with their generous hosts.
The collective international responsibility for protecting and finding solutions for these refugees must remain a priority for all countries in the region and beyond, he said.
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