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Security Council to keep Rohingya situation high on its agenda

Bangladesh has said the Security Council should continue to act on behalf of the international community as the custodian for the process of voluntary, safe and dignified return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya to Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, said this at a Council meeting on Tuesday.

The Kuwaiti Presidency of the Council organised the first open meeting of the year on the situation in Myanmar, said the Embassy on Wednesday.

The meeting was convened at the behest of a number of Council members led by the United Kingdom.

The Security Council invited the Permanent Representatives of Myanmar and Bangladesh to speak at the meeting as countries directly concerned.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Miroslav Jenca, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Political Affairs (DPA) briefed the meeting on behalf of the UN, including the current state of play with the possible voluntary return of the Rohingya to Myanmar.

The Bangladesh PR shared information on the government’s ongoing efforts to facilitate the voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to Myanmar.

In this context, he quoted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s statement at the General Assembly last year, “The crisis has its root in Myanmar and its solution has to be found in Myanmar”.

He acknowledged the international community’s support in providing humanitarian assistance to the distressed Rohingya.

He expressed hope that the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on the situation in Myanmar would be appointed soon who would act as a conduit for international community’s engagement with the Myanmar authorities.

He invited the Council members to visit Bangladesh to witness the situation of the Rohingya.

All the 15 members of the Council spoke at the meeting and once again commended the generosity of the government and people of Bangladesh for providing emergency shelter to nearly 700,000 forcibly displaced people from Myanmar.

They expressed satisfaction at the bilateral arrangements signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar on voluntary return and underscored the need for the international community’s support to Myanmar for creating a favourable situation on the ground for the Rohingyas’ sustainable return.

The Council members recalled that Myanmar had accepted to implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission headed by Dr Kofi Annan.

A number of Council members stressed the need for tangible actions to realise this commitment, including restoring the citizenship rights of the Rohingya.

Some Council members expressed shock at the news of mass graves discovered in Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine State and reports of extra-judicial killings and forced starvation.

They urged Myanmar to ensure accountability for the perpetrators of such crimes and to ascertain that the affected people received humanitarian assistance without any restriction.

A number of Council members called upon Myanmar to end harassment and detention of the two Reuters journalists who had obtained proof of mass graves and killings by security forces and local vigilante groups in September last year.

A number of Council members expressed their commitment to keep the issue high on the Council’s agenda during their presidencies in the coming months.