A hapless Rohingya child cries as he stands near the Thyangkhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district yesterday.
Rogingyas, who took refuge in Bangladesh to escape from the atrocities by the Myanmar security forces in Rakhine State, should be repatriated to their original homes, not to other locations, the United Nations has said. “Look, whether we’re talking about Rohingya refugees in Myanmar or any refugees, no one should ever be forced to move or forced to return home. All returns have to be voluntary and have to be to their place… to the place where people came from, not in any other location. It’s about the freedom of refugees and the rights of refugees,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, told a questioner at a regular briefing in New York on Tuesday.
To another question, he said, “Well, I think it’s clear to everyone that Bangladesh… the Government and the people of Bangladesh have been extremely generous in welcoming Rohingya refugees. I mean the flow of people that we update you regularly on, the numbers are mind boggling.” “But as we said, for any refugees anywhere, once the security situation improves in their home country, people should be allowed for safe, dignified, and voluntary return to their place of origin,” he added. Responding to another question, the spokesperson said no one can accuse the UN secretary-general of being silent with regard to the situation of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh.
“You know, a secretary-general visit is important, obviously, at any time, but we’d never want to get in the way of the delivery of aid. But the fact that he has not personally visited… the fact that he’s not personally visited Bangladesh, I think, in no way lessens his outrage at what has been going on in the area,” he said.
To a question regarding Rohingya repatriation, Dujarric said, “I think what we never want to see is a situation where people are forced, are pushed by force, to return somewhere where they may not feel safe.”
Replying to a question regarding disappearances in Bangladesh, the spokesperson said, “I don’t have details of the case as you mention. I think, as a matter of principle, countries need to investigate all disappearances and to cooperate with the relevant human rights mechanisms.”
Asked if the secretary-general considers enforced disappearances a continuing crime, he said, “I’m not sure I understand what the… the… the definition of continuing crime. What we know is that there are… continues to be disappearances, enforced disappearances, all over the world.”
UNB adds: Amnesty International, a human right organization, yesterday urged the government to abandon all plans to relocate over one lakh Rohingya refugees to an ‘uninhabitable’ island. In a statement Amnesty said the government on Tuesday approved a $280 million plan to develop the isolated, flood-prone and uninhabitable Thenger Char to temporarily house Rohingya refugees until they are repatriated to Myanmar.