Warning that a wider regional problem is at hand, Bangladesh’s leader said Friday that the crisis involving Muslim Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar is “going beyond the camps” where they are staying.
In Bangladesh’s annual address to the U.N. General Assembly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed to the international community to “understand the untenability of the situation” surrounding the refugees from Myanmar, who are fleeing persecution by the military there.
“I would request the international community to understand the untenability of the situation,” Hasina said. “The crisis is now going beyond the camps. Despite all our efforts to contain it, the crisis is now becoming a regional threat.”
She said that health and security are becoming problems as congestion and environmental problems increase.
She says Bangladesh will continue to work with Myanmar to encourage repatriation of the Rohingya. She has proposed at the UN this week a resolution ensuring that Myanmar and the international community must ensure the safety of any Rohingya returnees.
We are bearing the burden of a crisis which is Myanmar’s own making,” Hasina said. “It is an issue solely between Myanmar and its own people, the Rohingyas. They themselves have to resolve it. Voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine state in safety, security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis.”
Bangladesh said this week that authorities will build barbed-wire fences around more than 30 Rohingya refugee camps near the border to stop their expansion.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said Thursday the fences were ordered by Hasina, who had earlier told authorities to open the border to allow hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to escape from a harsh military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar two years ago.
Myanmar’s military began a harsh counterinsurgency campaign against Rohingya Muslims in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled what has been called an ethnic cleansing campaign involving mass rapes, killings and burning of thousands of their homes.
Last year, the U.N.-established Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar recommended the prosecution of top Myanmar military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Myanmar has rejected the allegations.