NEW YORK, DECEMBERr 12 – The United Nations can help repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, the Organization’s top political official said Tuesday, stressing that the Asian country can also tap the UN’s capacities and extensive experience in tackling other challenges, including democratic consolidation efforts.
“We hope Myanmar will draw upon the wealth of expertise the UN can offer,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council in his briefing on developments in Myanmar.
The estimated number of refugees who entered Bangladesh from Myanmar since 25 August now exceeds 626,000. One of the major developments Mr. Feltman highlighted was a bilateral agreement on the issue of returns reached on 23 November between the two countries – a pact that recognizes the need for a comprehensive and durable solution through the safe, dignified, and voluntary return in accordance with international law.
Mr. Feltman said returns must be supported by reconciliation efforts, and central to this are the reccomendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission established by Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, calling for concrete steps by the government, such as ending enforced segregation of Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims and ensuring full and unfettered humanitarian access throughout Rakhine state.
Italy remains committed to supporting Myanmar in overcoming the crisis in Rakhine and progressing in its democratic transition and peace process, the Deputy permanent representative to the UN Inigo Lambertini told the Council. In this spirit Italy has immediately mobilized to respond to the humanitarian situation and announced a pledge of 7 million euros at the Donors Conference in Geneva.
Lambertini agreed that promising steps have been made in the past few weeks thanks to Myanmar’s commitment but additional efforts are required to address the situation in Rakhine in a comprehensive and effective manner, as outlined by the Presidential Statement. “We encourage Myanmar to strengthen the cooperation with the United Nations’ system, which is the best equipped to shore up the action of the parties and of regional actors, also with a view to the appointment of a Special Envoy provided for by the III Committee Resolution to be considered by the General Assembly in the next days”, he said, adding that the International Community, and the Security Council, should continue to keep the situation on focus to ensure a united and constructive support to peace and reconciliation in Myanmar. “Italy, as it has done this year as member of this Council, will continue to do its part, at bilateral and multilateral level”, he concluded.
Today’s meeting was a follow-up to the Council’s presidential statement on the situation in Myanmar adopted on 6 November, which requested the Secretary-General to brief on developments 30 days after its adoption.
Also briefing the Council was Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who visited Bangladesh from 5 to 13 November. She said that the shocking accounts of acts committed against Rohingya women and girls are consistent and corroborated by medical staff and added that the UN agencies and partners require sustainable resources to support survivors and to ensure them a safe future. (@OnuItalia)