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”.
There are currently 860,000 Rohingya refugees in and around Cox’s Bazar, and an estimated 600,000 still in Rakhine state, who face ongoing violence and discrimination; and Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and other countries in the region, are together hosting nearly 150,000 Rohingya refugees.
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, 19 December, 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.