06/19/2019, 14.34
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UN management of the Rohingya crisis a 'systemic’ failures

A report commissioned by the general secretary highlights such failures. The United Nations system has been unable to work effectively with Myanmar to prevent abuse. The country’s refugee camps host about 128,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslim IDPs; 720,000 have fled to Bangladesh.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres accepted the conclusions and recommendations contained in an internal report that highlights "systematic” failures by the UN in its management of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

Commissioned by Guterres last February and released two days ago, the document looks at what the organisation did before the mass exodus of the Myanmar ethnic minority. It concludes that the mistakes made prevented the implementation of a unified strategy.

The author of the inquiry is Gert Rosenthal, a former Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to the UN as well as a top official with the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Rosenthal found that the United Nations system as a whole was “relatively impotent to effectively work with the authorities of Myanmar, to reverse the negative trends in the areas of human rights, and consolidate the positive trends in other areas.”

The review covers the period 2010-2018, encompassing the UN’s response to the abuse of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in Rakhine state by the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) and security forces, which began in August 2017, described by the UN human rights chief at the time as a text book example of ethnic cleansing.

The Myanmar government has denied claims of widespread abuse, saying instead that its military campaign in hundreds of villages in northern Rakhine was provoked by attacks by Rohingya rebels.

In his conclusions and recommendations, Rosenthal writes instead that the blame for the serious abuses lies above all with the government.

He goes on to say that even if the UN’s "systematic failures" are not attributable to any one entity or person, there is a shared responsibility "on the part of all parties involved in not having been able to accompany the Government’s political process with constructive actions, while at the same time conveying more forcefully the United Nations’ principled concerns regarding grave human rights violations”.

Rosenthal notes the UN Security Council should bear some responsibility, “by not providing enough support to the Secretariat, when such backing was and continues to be essential”. He adds that one key lesson is “to foster an environment encouraging different entities of the UN System to work together” to reinforce a “broader, system-wide strategy”.

The UN Spokespersons’ Office, reacting to the report, said that UN chief António Guterres was “grateful to Mr. Rosenthal for producing a candid, forthright and useful report.”

Mr. Guterres said he was accepting the recommendations “and is committed to implementing them so as to improve the performance of the United Nations system. This review is valuable for the Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team in Myanmar, as well as in other countries where the UN operates in similarly challenging conditions.”

The humanitarian crisis that affects the Rohingya is one of the worst in the world. The Myanmar government runs several refugee camps, with a total population of around 128,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims.

They have been living in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps since 2012, when violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims left more than 200 people dead and displaced about 140,000 others, mostly Rohingya.

In addition to the IDP camp residents, 720,000 or more Rohingya are sheltering in Bangladesh after being driven out by army campaigns in 2016 and 2017.

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