Sunday, 24 January 2021

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Myanmar: UN calls for peace, humanitarian access and return of refugees

The Secretary-General briefs the Security Council | © UN Photo/Kim Haughton

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on Myanmar's authorities to end military operations, allow access to humanitarian support and ensure safe return of Rohingya refugees.

In an address to the UN Security Council, Mr. Guterres said that now that 500,000 Rohyingia had fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, the situation had spiralled into the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency and a “humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”

The Secretary-General who referred the crisis to the Security Council on 2 September said that despite Myanmar military´s assurances that military operations had ceased, displacement appears to have continued, with reports of the burning of Muslim villages, as well as looting and acts of intimidation.  

“We have received bone-chilling accounts from those who fled -- mainly women, children and the elderly,” Mr. Guterres said. “These testimonies point to excessive violence and serious violations of human rights, including indiscriminate firing of weapons, the presence of landmines and sexual violence. This is unacceptable and must end immediately.”  

The Secretary-General added that the UN has “taken good note” of recent declarations by Myanmar's authorities that no one is above the law. “There is a clear need to ensure accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations, to curb the current violence and to prevent future abuses.”

On the humanitarian situation, Mr. Guterres reiterated calls for “unfettered access for humanitarian support.”

“The United Nations and its partners should be allowed to reach the affected areas without delay.”

He asked the members of the Security Council to join him in urging that all those who have fled to Bangladesh be able to “exercise their right to a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return to their homes.” 

“The United Nations is committed to a plan for voluntary return and calls upon the international community to support such an effort. This should include development assistance to the villages of those who return home, and the implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations regarding verification and citizenship.”

He briefed the Security Council on how the United Nations continues to step up the humanitarian response, including a donor´s conference which has been convened on 9 October by the UN agencies for refugees, humanitarian aid and migration.

“The United Nations will remain a close partner to Myanmar to address these urgent issues,” Mr. Guterres said. “And we are committed to nothing less than easing the heart-breaking suffering of so many vulnerable people while forging a lasting solution that affirms shared values, promotes mutual respect and upholds human dignity.”


UNRIC Library Backgrounder on Myanmar:

Please noteUNHCR has a special website on “Rohingya emergency”


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