UNSC team meets Rohingyas in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees

UN Security Council delegation is in Bangladesh to ensure the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims refugees who have fled Myanmar due to violence.

According to a copy seen by BenarNews, these included a demand for "an global security presence in Arakan (Rakhine) to keep us safe"; full citizenship for their people and official recognition of their Rohingya ethnicity; the right of Rohingya to return to "our original land, village and family compound"; as well as to hold Myanmar military members and others accountable for abuses and crimes committed against Rohingya.

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that the diplomats would not look away from the crisis, but added that finding a solution would be no easy task.

Senior diplomats from the 15-member Security Council - including permanent members the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday for a four-day visit to the camps.

Without new funding, tens of thousands of people in the camps, fleeing violence triggered in Myanmar last August, will be at risk, the IOM said.

"The global community should keep up pressure on the Myanmar government in this regard", she said.

The Prime Minister also said the repatriation process of the Rohingyas has to be done under the supervision of the United Nations. "I will tell them my stories".

"We are standing here to demand justice as they (the Myanmar military) have killed our men and tortured our women so much, so we are compelled to seek justice for those abuses", Sajida Begum, a Rohingya refugee who was in the crowd Sunday, told Reuters.

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Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees started arriving in Bangladesh in August a year ago, after Myanmar's army launched a violent crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine State. Today, the team will visit Myanmar to see the refugee crisis from the other side of the Bangladesh border.

Bangladesh's acting foreign secretary, M. Khurshed Alam, said the delegation's visit is "very significant", with global pressure on Burma continuing to mount to ensure the safe and voluntary return of the refugees, who are seeking protection from the United Nations.

They later went to Kutupalong Camp in Bangladesh where over half a million refugees are now living.

Prior to the briefing, the delegation visited Kutupalong refugee camp and Tombru border in Bandarban's Naikhyangchhari to assess first-hand the plight of the refugees there.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch called for the Rohingya crisis to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has for years denied Rohingya citizenship, freedom of movement and access to basic services such as healthcare. "We want security and return of our confiscated land and properties", said Rohingya leader Mohibullah.

Today's visit was planned by Myanmar's government to begin repairing relations with the worldwide community and will be used as an opportunity to consider taking further action.

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