Bangladesh to UN: We can no longer sustain weight of Rohingya

Approximately 740 thousand people are massed in the refugee camps on the border with Myanmar. Their repatriation should be carried out safely. The UN special envoy witnesses "slow progress" on the part of Naypyidaw.

Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Bangladesh "can no longer bear the weight of the reception of the Rohingya refugees" according to Shahidul Haque, Secretary of Defense of Dhaka, who was speaking before the United Nations Security Council yesterday.

He said that the refugee crisis created by the Muslim ethnicity fleeing from the Burmese state of Rakhine has gone "from bad to worse". This is why he asks the Council to take a firm position on the issue of returning displaced persons. For his part, the ambassador of Myanmar Hau Do Suan asked to be patient again.

With the outbreak of violence between the Burmese army and militants of the Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) in August 2017, about 740 thousand Rohingya Muslims crossed the border and settled in Bangladesh. The voluntary transfer of the first 2,260 refugees was scheduled for 15 November. However, no one has expressed the wish to go back, at least until Naypyidaw guarantees them "security and citizenship rights".

Secretary Haque said: "Here, I regret to inform the council that Bangladesh would no longer be in a position to accommodate more people from Myanmar ". Then he asked: "Is Bangladesh paying the price for being responsive and responsible in showing empathy to a persecuted minority population of a neighboring country?".

Christine Schraner Burgener, appointed UN Special Envoy in Myanmar in April 2018, highlighted that UN agencies have given "insufficient" help to prepare the repatriation of refugees. After making five official trips to Burmese soil, the correspondent testifies "slow progress" in preparing the return of thousands of Rohingya. The elections next year, he adds, could further worsen the crisis.