Myanmar’s Refugee Problem among World’s Worst Humanitarian, Human Rights Crises, Secretary-General Says in Briefing to Security Council

Myanmar – “Refugee Problem”

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Myanmar’s Refugee Problem among World’s Worst Humanitarian, Human Rights Crises, Secretary-General Says in Briefing to Security Council
28 August 2018
SC/13469
Fact-Finding Mission’s Impartiality Questioned as Bangladesh Stresses Naypyidaw’s Duty to Build Rohingya’s Trust in Safe, Peaceful Returns
[Editor’s text bolding]
One year after the start of the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Security Council considered today the report issued by the independent fact-finding mission dispatched to that country, which alleges that national security forces committed gross human rights violations and abuses that “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law”.

Briefing the 15-member Council, Secretary-General António Guterres said the massive refugee emergency that began in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has become “one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crises”. While condemning attacks against the security forces by extremists in October 2016 and August 2017, he nevertheless emphasized that nothing can ever justify the disproportionate use of force against civilians or the gross human rights violations committed by the Myanmar security forces and their allies.

Regrettably, the Secretary-General continued, Myanmar has refused to cooperate with United Nations human rights entities and mechanisms, despite repeated calls to do so, including by members of the Council. Emphasizing that patterns of violations against ethnic and religious minorities beyond Rakhine must also end in order for genuine democracy to take root, he said unity among Council members was essential.

Also addressing the Council was Tegegnework Gettu, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who said that creating sustainable conditions for the voluntary return of refugees from Bangladesh will require comprehensive and durable solutions. Outlining efforts by UNDP and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to create conditions suitable for voluntary returns, he said effective access and streamlined procedures are essential to accessing entire tracts of villages and undertaking area-based programmes that will help to build social cohesion…

…Myanmar’s representative said that his country’s Government does not accept the mandate of the fact-finding mission due to concerns about its impartiality. “I have serious doubt on the intention of the timing of the release of the report,” he added, pointing out that it was released on the eve of today’s Security Council meeting on his country. Addressing deep-rooted and complex issues in Rakhine State is a fundamental and crucial part of the Government’s efforts to build peace and national reconciliation, he stressed.

Representatives of China and the Russian Federation argued that the crisis requires a long-term, patient approach rather than pressure, and must be resolved through bilateral diplomatic efforts.

The representative of Bangladesh called upon the Council to further calibrate its response in light of prevailing circumstances on the ground and emerging evidence of atrocities against the Rohingya. Emphasizing that the return of refugees cannot begin unless the Rohingya themselves regain the trust and confidence to opt voluntarily for repatriation, he declared: “It would be entirely up to the Myanmar authorities to build trust among the Rohingya about their sustainable return and peaceful coexistence with other communities in Rakhine State.”…