After a visit to the troubled Rakhine state of Myanmar recently, a U.S. team has said people there continue to face persecution and displacement.
Kelly Clements, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, who led the team, strongly recommended immediate humanitarian assistance and access to international aid for the affected people. The team was in Myanmar from September 7 to 10 and in Bangladesh from September 11th to 13th to assess the situation and hold talks with officials on how to reduce tensions and improve humanitarian situation. (Many Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh in the wake of June violence.) Two delegates of the four-member U.S. team narrated their findings to media here on Thursday.
They said they identified, after visiting the worst-affected Sittwe and Mongdu areas — both torn by ethnic violence — “immediate humanitarian assistance as the top most priority”.
Ms. Kelly and her colleague Daniel Baer — Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor — said they talked to local leaders and victims in Arakan state and refugees in two camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar to get first hand account of the situation.
Asked whether they felt that Myanmar had failed to address the ethnic problem, the U.S. officials parried the question but said bringing tensions under control should be given priority. They underscored the need for understanding and reconciliation between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists for a long-term solution.
Ms. Kelly also said the U.S. would continue its support through UNHCR to address the need of Rohingyas and the citizens of Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar until a long term solution is found. Asked whether the U.S. wanted Bangladesh to receive new Rohingya refugees, Ambassador Dan Mozena said Bangladesh had a long tradition of hospitality and hoped that the government would uphold it in case Rohingyas arrive here.
Bangladesh, which had already sheltered thousands of Rohinga refugees, has taken tough stance this time. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also asked the international community to address the real issues so that the Rohingyas do not flee their homes repeatedly.