World must not forget Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh – UNHCR chief


The chief of UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Wednesday said the world must not forget the suffering of Rohingya refugees even as all attention are now on the ongoing Ukraine war.

Following a five-day visit to Bangladesh, which included visits to refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, Filippo Grandi said that gathering support for the Rohingya cause will be “a bigger challenge than in past years.”

More than 1.1 million Rohingya who fled atrocities in their native Myanmar currently lives in refugee camps in Bangladesh with the majority living in congested camps at Cox’s Bazar.

Meanwhile tens of thousands have been moved to Bhasan Char — an island settlement in the Bay of Bengal several hours away from the mainland — since the end of 2020.

“It’s very important that the world knows that this should not be forgotten,” Grandi said at a press conference in Dhaka, adding that there was the risk of “marginalization” due to the attention and resources that were being absorbed elsewhere, especially by the emergency in Ukraine.

“I am here to remind the international community that there is not just Ukraine and new crises, that Bangladesh has been bearing the responsibility for five years and this support cannot decline.”

Grandi, who also met with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during his visit, said he agreed with the premier that the solution to the crisis “can only be in Myanmar,” adding that his office is engaging with relevant authorities to resolve the situation.

“The Rohingya refugees I met reiterated their desire to return home when conditions allow. The world must work to address the root causes of their flight and to translate those dreams into reality,” Grandi said.

Grandi’s visit is expected to help restart discussions on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar after talks stalled further since Myanmar’s military took power in a coup in February 2021.

Humayun Kabir, Bangladesh’s former ambassador to the US, described the UN official’s visit as “important,” as it allowed Grandi to assess the situation for the Rohingya refugees and what authorities in the South Asian country need to help address the crisis.

“Through this visit, Grandi was informed about the expectations of Bangladesh’s authorities over the Rohingya crisis. Although the repatriation is yet to begin, this kind of visit and discussion has much significance to resolve the crisis,” Kabir told Arab News.

To speed up the negotiation process over the fate of the Rohingya, Dhaka University’s international relations Prof. Amena Mohsin said the UN should work more to engage global powers.

“The UN should unite global powers on this issue so that the repatriation process can be accelerated,” Mohsin told Arab News. (Source: Arab News)