GENEVA, Switzerland – The world must not forget the roughly one million Rohingya from Myanmar “forced to run for their lives from the military’s genocidal attack against them”, an independent UN human rights expert said on Monday, beginning his first mission to Bangladesh.
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, began his official visit with a statement reminding that when conditions allow for their safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation, “the Rohingya want nothing more than to return to their homes in Myanmar”.
The complex Rohingya refugee crisis erupted in August 2017, following attacks on remote police outposts in western Myanmar by armed groups alleged to be from within the community. These were followed by systematic counter attacks against the minority, mainly Muslim Rohingya, which human rights groups, including senior UN officials, have said amounted to ethnic cleansing.
Support those driven from home
During his six-day trip, the Special Rapporteur will visit Dhaka, the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, and the island of Bhasan Char – where many Rohingya have been relocated.
He will meet Government and civil society representatives, UN officials and, most importantly, members of the Rohingya community.
“While the Myanmar junta continues to systematically violate the people of Myanmar’s human rights, it is critical that the global community support those who have been forced to flee their homes in Myanmar for Bangladesh”, Andrews said. “I am honoured to have the opportunity to meet with them”.
The UN expert expressed his gratitude to the Bangladesh Government for providing him with access during this essential mission, noting that he has been given an important opportunity to meet with relevant officials as well as international and civil society organizations in relation to Myanmar.
“In particular, I look forward to meeting with Rohingya, to listen to them, lend support, and work together with them towards sustainable long-term solutions and pursuing accountability for the atrocities the military committed against them in Myanmar”, underscored Andrews
On his last day in the country, December 19, the independent expert will share his preliminary observations during a press conference in Dhaka.
His findings will also form part of an update to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
Special Rapporteurs and are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and they are not paid for their work.