The members of the UN Security Council have stressed the need to step up efforts to create conditions conducive for safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Rohingyas to their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The members of the Security Council continued to stress the importance of undertaking independent and transparent investigations into allegations of human rights (HR) abuses and violations.
They, in a meeting on Tuesday (BDT), laid emphasis on providing assistance to the social and economic development in Rakhine state, according to the UN sources.
The members of the Security Council were, for the first time, briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener in the meeting.
They expressed strong support for the Special Envoy in her work to address the crisis, and to deepen Myanmar’s partnership with the United Nations.
The members of the Security Council also heard briefings from Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Volker Turk, UNCHR, and Claire Van der Vaeren, Director for Country Office Liaison and Coordination for Asia-Pacific, UNDP.
The briefers provided a comprehensive overview of the current situation, including as regards UN access to those in need. The members of the Security Council stressed the need to make progress in facilitating implementation of the MOU with UNHCR and UNDP, and MOUs and arrangements between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
They noted the decision of the government of Myanmar to establish an Independent Commission of Inquiry on 31 May.
It was a “closed door consultation” for Security Council members.
The Council mainly heard from the secretary general’s special envoy following her maiden visit to both Myanmar and Bangladesh in last two months.
There is likely to be an “Open Briefing” at end of next month during UK Presidency of the Council, a diplomatic source said.
The UN and the US officials have called the government’s military campaign ethnic cleansing.
The new UN special envoy for Myanmar said Myanmar’s leaders want to bring Rohingya back to Rakhine state, but there are not only divisions between the government and Rohingya, but divisions between that Muslim minority and the rest of Rakhine’s mostly Buddhist population, reports AP.
Burgener, who started the job two months ago, said she has traveled widely, met government officials including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi three times and has gotten approval to open a small office in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw. She said she plans to return to Myanmar in September.
“I need dialogue, and for that I need open doors,” she said, including to discuss “critical questions” and advise the government on “how they can also change the attitude of the communities on the ground.”
Several Security Council members have called for the UN’s most powerful body to impose sanctions to pressure the government on the Rohingya issue, but China, a close ally of Myanmar and a veto-wielding council member, is highly unlikely to ever agree.
Burgener told reporters, “I think Myanmar is not a country, which is reacting quite on pressure, but it’s up to the Security Council.”
Sweden’s UN ambassador Olof Skoog, the current council president, stressed the importance of council unity, though he said his country thinks progress has been “far too slow.”
“I think there is a recognition among Security Council members that there have been positive steps taken lately. It’s also fair to say that many of those steps are far from sufficient,” Skoog said. “As long as the council is unified in terms of engagement, but also on putting pressure, I think we are making progress slowly.”
Bangladesh wants to see the UNSC delivers on Rohingya issue to have a sustainable solution to the crisis.
The Myanmar government has so far not taken any visible steps for the safe and sustainable return of Rohingyas despite repeated calls from the Rohingya international community, say diplomatic sources.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who recently visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar said that Rohingyas are the victims of ethnic cleansing and the world has failed to save them.
Over 700,000 of these have been forced to settle in camps following the ‘clearance operations’ of the Myanmar military that commenced on 25 August 2017.
The Fact-Finding Mission is scheduled to present its findings to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 18.
It has previously presented three oral updates to the 47-member Human Rights Council – in September and December 2017, and March 2018.
United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener also conducted her first official visit to Bangladesh from July 14 to 16.
During her visit, she said the ongoing crisis requires a political solution that addresses the underlying issues.
In all the discussions during the visit, the Special Envoy also underlined the importance of accountability for the crimes committed, officials said.
Officials said Bangladesh maintains bilateral discussions with Myanmar apart from its efforts engaging the international community.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali will visit Myanmar on August 8 to see conditions for safe return of Rohingyas, including their safety and livelihood facilities, an official said.