UNSC team due Saturday; to visit Rohingya camp Sunday

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Desk Report:

A high-profile delegation of the UN Security Council arrives here on Saturday afternoon to see the brutalities that the Rohingyas faced in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and steps taken by the government of Bangladesh.

UNSC President for April Gustavo Meza-Cuadra will lead the delegation, says an official.

The UNSC team will arrive here directly, acting Foreign Secretary Rear Admiral (retd) M Khurshed Alam, who is now in Cox’s Bazar, told UNB on Friday.

They will stay in Cox’s Bazar overnight and will visit Kutupalong Rohingya camp in the district on Sunday to see first-hand the impacts of the Rohingya crisis.

Asked about visiting the zero line along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, he said it will be decided depending on time upon their arrival.

The delegation members are expected to return to Dhaka from Cox’s Bazar on Sunday evening after witnessing the Rohingya situation on the ground.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam is expected to host a reception in honour of the UNSC team at Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden on Sunday evening.

The delegation will leave for Naypyidaw on April 30 and go to Rakhine the next day.

The UN Security Council is composed of 15 members with five permanent members — China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States — and 10 non-permanent members.

The delegation members are expected to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and top government officials on Monday morning before their departure, an official told UNB.

The UNSC visit was originally scheduled for April 27-28.

Britain’s UN ambassador Karen Pierce, according to AP report, said the most important thing is that the body charged with maintaining international peace and security “can see for itself the situation on the ground in a very desperate case of alleged human rights violations and abuses and crimes against humanity.”

The United Nations has a major effort under way to help the refugees in Bangladesh, and Pierce said the council will be able to see it in operation and “take a view on the extent to which that impacts on regional security and stability.”

She said the council will also be able “to draw attention to what it considers are the most flagrant human rights abuses and violations, and what needs to be done next to help Myanmar develop as a modern political and economic entity, and to help create the conditions where the refugees can go home in safety and security and dignity.”

Earlier, Bangladesh urged the UN Security Council to visit Myanmar and Bangladesh to witness the humanitarian situation of the Rohingyas amid continuous influx of the refugees.

Over 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, and the influx, though reduced in recent weeks, continues despite Myanmar’s assurances of stopping violence in Rakhine.

On April 6, Hasina invited UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit Bangladesh to see for himself the plight of Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Bangladesh amid persecution in Myanmar.

During the telephone conversation, she also sought UN cooperation in implementing the agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the Rohingya repatriation.

On April 19, US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said the Myanmar military and other authorities must be held accountable for the “horrific and organised violence” against the Rohingyas.

The US diplomat said their country would continue to focus on the issue with great importance. “We’re also in discussions about what additional actions should take place … the investigation is moving forward, and I think you’ll find additional action in the days to come.”

Special envoy on Myanmar appointed 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday announced the appointment of Christine Schraner Burgener of Switzerland as his new special envoy on Myanmar.

Burgener brings over 25 years of experience in diplomacy having served in various high-level government positions in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Until her appointment Burgener was the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Federal Republic of Germany since 2015, according to UN Information Office in Dhaka.

From 2009 to 2015, she served as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand and led efforts to mediate between the two sides in the violence that erupted in Thailand in 2010.

Burgener has also served as Deputy Director of the Directorate of International Law, with rank of Ambassador, and Head of the International Law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law Division in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2009.

Simultaneously she served as the Coordinator for Counterterrorism on Foreign Policy and as the Secretary General of the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission.

Born in Meiringen, Switzerland in 1963, Burgener holds a law degree from the University of Zürich.

Situation in Rakhine extremely concerning

Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric quoting their humanitarian colleagues said the situation in Rakhine remains extremely concerning.

“There are continued reports of departures from northern Rakhine, and some reports of threats and extortion against Muslim communities,” he said in a regular briefing at the UN headquarters on Thursday.

The Spokesman said bulldozing of burned or abandoned villages remains evident, and the movement restrictions placed on Rohingya communities remain in place, including for those trapped in camps for the last six years in central Rakhine.

“There is a population of around 500,000 Rohingya still living in Rakhine who face continued discrimination and nationalisation,” he said.

The UN Spokesman said severe restrictions on their freedom of movement persist, grossly restricting their access to health care, education and livelihoods.

“Therefore, our humanitarian colleagues stress that refugees from Bangladesh cannot be expected to safely, voluntarily and sustainably return.”

He said the United Nations stands ready to work with the government of Myanmar in implementing the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission.unb

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