Asia/South Asia
5 years ago

Boris Johnson meets Suu Kyi, calls for Rohingyas' dignified return

Boris Johnson meets Aung San Suu Kyi for Rohingya talks. -BBC
Boris Johnson meets Aung San Suu Kyi for Rohingya talks. -BBC

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Boris Johnson has met Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for talks amid the Rohingya refugee crisis.

The foreign secretary called for the safe return to the country of refugees who have fled following a military crackdown.

Nearly 700,000 people have left since the action began in August 2017.

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti said there were smiles as the pair shook hands, but said: "The plight of the Rohingya people will be a difficult topic."

Mr Johnson will later be taken on a tour of Rakhine State - the area the refugees are from - by the Myanmar military and will also meet the chair of the Advisory Board on the Rakhine Advisory Commission, Surakiart Sathirathai.

On Saturday, he met members of the Bangladeshi government and visited camps on the Bangladesh border holding the refugees.

After visiting the Cox's Bazar camp, home to more than 500,000 refugees, Mr Johnson said the "horrendous living conditions" further strengthened his commitment to finding a solution.

He said: "It is vital that the Rohingya refugees must be allowed to their homes in Rakhine voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, under international oversight, and when the conditions... are right."

After meeting Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali, he said: "I was really struck by how Bangladesh and the UK really share a common analysis of what needs to be done. We need to make those points together to the government in Nay Pyi Daw."

The United Nations has described the exodus of Rohingya people from Rakhine state, and the military offensive which provoked it, as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Neighbouring Bangladesh has agreed a timeframe with Myanmar for repatriating Rohingya people.

But aid agencies have expressed concern over the projected figures for the transfer - Myanmar has agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week; Bangladesh says it aims to return everyone within two years.

And the refugees are worried about the conditions and their rights upon their return.

Britain is one of the biggest direct donors of aid for the humanitarian effort to help the refugees.

The foreign secretary's trip to Bangladesh is the first such official visit in a decade.

He will go on to Bangkok, Thailand, for talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, reports BBC.

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