Episode: KPN 26 -12-2021 Kaladan Radio
Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, on Sunday said Bangladesh should not bear all the responsibility for the Rohingya crisis as it began in Myanmar.
“Myanmar is the source of this crisis, and it’s where a resolution ultimately resides. It is also where the Rohingya community is anxious to return,” said Andrew in a press conference at the end of his first official visit to Bangladesh.
The press conference was held at the InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka.
Earlier, the UN expert visited Bhasan Char Island, where the government has so far relocated nearly 19,000 refugees.
“I look forward to returning to a Myanmar where justice, human rights and human decency finally prevail, and I can meet with the Rohingya community not as refugees but as citizens in their own country, Myanmar,” he said at the press conference.
He also said that he came to Bangladesh at a critical point for all Myanmar people, including the Rohingya who have taken refuge in Cox’s Bazar.
“The people of Myanmar need and deserve our support. The international community cannot afford to ignore this crisis,” he said.
Regarding security concerns in Bashan Char, he said: “I was pleased that, without exception, every Rohingya resident of Bashan Char Island who I spoke with was satisfied with the security and found relief in being free from the dangers that exist in the camps on Cox’s Bazar.”
When asked if he had found anyone who had been coerced to leave the Cox’s Bazar camps for Bashan Char, he said there may have been some coercion, but he did not see any.
“Discussions with the Rohingya on Bhasan Char made clear that for the vast majority, visiting relatives on the mainland had not been an option because there was no opportunity to travel there. Everyone identified this as a major issue. I learned that one trip had so far been arranged just recently to take residents to the mainland, with just over sixty individuals able to visit,” he said.
He also said he visited the Bangladesh-Myanmar border because Myanmar is the country where the crisis began.
The UN special rapporteur added that he will do everything in his capacity to push for a stronger, more coordinated international response to this crisis, including the imposition of pressure on the Myanmar military and for concrete measures to hold the military junta fully accountable for this crisis.
“Nearly every Rohingya person I spoke with on this mission, whether at the Kutapalong Camps or on Bhasan Char, wants to return home as soon as they can do so voluntarily, safely, sustainably, and with dignity,” he said.
As for the health care facilities in Bhasan Char, he said the medical needs of some of those on Bashan Char Island are not being met due to health conditions that the island’s medical facilities are incapable of treating.
“I met with several people with medical conditions that remain untreated,” he said.
Regarding the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army issue, he said an investigation is underway and they are discussing it.
He called for the education of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as education will provide Rohingya youths with opportunities that could deter them from negative coping mechanisms, reducing security vulnerabilities in the camps and surrounding areas.
The UN special rapporteur’s findings from this visit will form part of his update presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2022.