UN Secretary-General's visit to Bangladesh

Kamal Uddin Ahmed | Published: July 06, 2018 21:16:06 | Updated: July 10, 2018 21:25:27

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking during a press conference at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh on July 02, 2018. -Reuters Photo

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his visit to Bangladesh on July 1-3 reaffirmed the responsibility of the international community "to do more" for the survival of the Rohingya refugees and their return to their homeland.

Synchronising with UN Secretary-General's programme, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, and Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Natalia Kanem visited Bangladesh and saw for themselves the conditions of the Rohingya refugees.

Though it is the first visit of Mr. Guterres to Bangladesh as the UN Secretary-General, he is quite familiar with the protracted Rohingya issue. As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) he visited Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar district in 2008.

According to a UN estimate, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 to escape Myanmar army's orchestrated campaign of violence and persecution in the Rakhine State. Despite a repatriation agreement concluded between Bangladesh and Myanmar on 23 November 23, 2017, no Rohingya refugee could return to their motherland until today.

The purpose of the concerted visit of the UN Secretary-General Guterres and other international leaders were: First, to put new diplomatic pressure on Myanmar; second, to review the situation on the ground towards the safe, voluntary and dignified returns of the Rohingyas to Myanmar; third, to dialogue with the Bangladesh government on medium-term arrangements for the refugees, and fourth, to persuade Myanmar for an inclusive solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis.

After meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office along with the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Guterres tweeted, "The response to this crisis is not a Bangladeshi responsibility; it's a global one." He also assured: "we're keeping up pressure on Myanmar...we need to put more pressure on Myanmar to make them understand what they should do on this issue."

On July 02, Antonio Guterres and Jim Yong Kim went to Cox's Bazar to talk to the Rohingya people and humanitarian workers involved there. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and UNHCR's Filippo Grandi, among others, accompanied them during the visit.

"In Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, I've just heard unimaginable accounts of killing and rape from Rohingya refugees who recently fled Myanmar. They want justice and a safe return home" Guterres tweeted after visiting refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

Later at a news conference, Guterres said that the refugees had to live under appalling conditions in the jam-packed makeshift camps in Bangladesh because of atrocities and systematic violations of their human rights by the repressive Myanmar regime.

However, diplomatic efforts by the UN Chief and others to resolve the Rohingya crisis will be successful only when India and China, who have geo-political interests in Myanmar, come forward and play a proactive role in the UN Security Council on this issue.


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