World Bulletin / News Desk
Citing State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, a state-owned newspaper reported Wednesday that the government is discussing signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
"In particular, the engagement of UN agencies in Rakhine [state] will strengthen the government’s ability to ensure that refugees can return safely, without fear,” she was quoted as saying in the report.
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal for the return of refugees earlier this year, but with the repatriation delayed, concern is growing as Myanmar has refused to allow any international body, including the UN, to oversee the process until very recently.
However, Suu Kyi said Wednesday that this is the appropriate time to let UN agencies help Myanmar “for the good of all people in Rakhine”.
“I am confident that this is an important turning point,” she said.
The move came as a delegation of diplomats from the UN Security Council visited the country this week to see developments on the ground in conflict-torn Rakhine.
Delegation leader Gustavo Adolfo Meza-Cuadra Velasquez told journalists Tuesday that Myanmar needed to better prepare for the return of Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh.
“There are conditions and restrictions that refugees don’t accept, and I think that the UN also should be involved,” he said following the two-day visit.
With “some UN agencies like UNHCR and UNDP, we know there are processes to sign an MOU between them and the Myanmar government,” he said.
“We want to see that happening soon.”
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN.
At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published on Dec. 12, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.