Bangladesh Calls for Efforts to Curb Influx of Refugees

By Reuters 21 February 2017

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh’s foreign minister called on the international community on Monday to address Burma’s treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority, tens of thousands of whom have fled in recent months to Bangladesh.

Speaking at a meeting with Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, who is in Dhaka on a three-day visit, A. H. Mahmood Ali said a peaceful resolution must be found, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Ali also described efforts by Dhaka to engage with Burma bilaterally by establishing border liaison offices and talks on security cooperation, the statement said.

Lee is visiting the Cox’s Bazar area on the border with Burma, where the foreign minister said the influx of Rohingya was having an adverse impact on the local population and undermining security.

In a separate meeting, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, in Dhaka on a two-day visit, urged the international community to put more pressure on Burma to stop maltreatment of the Rohingya.

“The Buddhist majority country has to treat minorities with dignity and inclusiveness,” Brende said.

Nearly 70,000 Rohingya have fled Burma’s Arakan State to Bangladesh since October. They have joined more than 200,000 Rohingya already in Bangladesh, many living in official and makeshift camps, straining resources in one of Asia’s poorest regions.

The UN human rights office said in a report this month that Burma’s security forces had committed mass killings and rapes of Rohingya Muslims and burned their villages. UN officials working with refugees in Bangladesh have told Reuters the death toll from the security sweep could be more than 1,000.

Burma has denied almost all allegations of human rights abuses and says a lawful counterinsurgency campaign has been underway since the Oct. 9 attacks on border security posts killed nine policemen.

Following her visit to Bangladesh, Special Rapporteur Lee will share her findings in a report to the UN Human Rights Council which will be available online on March 13, the Foreign Ministry statement said.