Pinch of pressure' mounts on Myanmar

Pinch of pressure’ mounts on Myanmar

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Dhaka – A number of high-profile visits to Bangladesh, including that of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, indicate that Myanmar is under ‘another spell of pressure’ from the international community over Rohingya issue, experts say.World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee are already in Bangladesh.

The UN Secretary General is due to arrive here early Sunday.

“Absolutely, this is kind of a pressure on Myanmar. The international pressure is mounting giving some results. Myanmar is feeling the pinch,” Distinguished Professor at Illinois State University, USA Ali Riaz told UNB.

He refereed that the under pressure Myanmar military recently dismissed a general who is alleged to have led a brutal campaign against Rohingya Muslims in August last.

The United States also strongly supported the actions taken by Canada and European Union partners to continue the promotion of accountability for the atrocities in Myanmar.

“So, pressure on Myanmar through current (high profile) visits is visible. We need to look at how this pressure works,” Prof Riaz who is now in Dhaka said.

Union Minister for the Myanmar State Counsellor’s Office Kyaw Tint Swe and Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali visited Beijing and they had a meeting there on Friday, a diplomatic source said.

Asked about such meeting, Prof Riaz said China wants to show its ‘presence’ as far what has been done on bilateral front is based on Chinese formula.

“China’s position is consistent. We always believe that the relevant issue should be resolved through the dialogue and negotiation between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the international community can play a constructive role in light of the will of the two countries,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang in Beijing on Friday.

At noon on Friday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a tea break with the two visiting ministers from Bangladesh and China when they exchanged views on properly resolving the issue of the Rakhine State. “I can tell you that the atmosphere was candid, sincere, light and friendly,” Lu Kang said.

The Foreign Ministry here says China has assured Bangladesh of facilitating the return of Rohingyas from Bangladesh as Dhaka sought active support from Beijing to this end.

“The displaced Rohingyas are so traumatised that they want solid security guarantee for their return. They want to return to their original villages and not to any camps; they must be accorded opportunities to earn their livelihood,” Foreign Minister Ali said.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh since last August to escape what United Nations and US officials have called an “ethnic cleansing” campaign by Myanmar’s government. Ali gave the number of refugees at 1.1 million.

Visiting UK Foreign Office Minister Mark Field has said the UK along with its international partners will continue to put ‘maximum pressure’ on Myanmar to ensure justice for the Rohingya victims of the persecutions by military in Rakhine State as well as their safe and dignified return from Bangladesh.

“We’re working in an effective way and will continue to do what we can to hold perpetrators accountable,” he said.

World Bank President Kim along with the United Nations chief will assess the severity of the crisis and discuss what more can be done.

The World Bank President will begin his official visit on Sunday, a senior official told UNB confirming his arrival in Dhaka on Saturday.

They will visit the Rohingya settlements in Cox’s Bazar and meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, other senior government officials, and representatives of civil society and other partners.

The World Bank earlier announced close to half-a-billion dollars in grant-based support to help Bangladesh address the needs of Rohingya refugees in areas such as health, education, water and sanitation, disaster risk management, and social protection.

Reflecting the increasingly protracted nature of the Rohingya crisis, the World Bank Board of Directors approved a $50 million additional grant to an existing Health Sector Support Project in Bangladesh that is the first in a series that could total as much as $480 million.
“Bangladesh has shown great leadership in this evolving humanitarian crisis by providing refuge for the Rohingya people. This grant allows the World Bank Group, working in collaboration with the Government of Canada, to support these efforts,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement on Thursday.

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer arrived here on Saturday afternoon to observe ICRC’s work in Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Before his arrival here, the ICRC president visited Myanmar to see situation in Rakhine State.

During his three-day visit, he will hold a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina apart from his meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs.

“While the emergency response continues, there must be urgent progress – from humanitarians, development actors, and the authorities – on building sustainable solutions,” said Peter Maurer.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee arrived here on Friday.

They will visit Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar separately. Filippo Grandi will accompany UN chief and WB President Kim. UNB

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