United Nations Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees (Protection) Volker Turk has urged the Myanmar government to ensure a safe environment and the protection of all communities in Rakhine State.
Turk reiterated the right of return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who fled from Rakhine State to Bangladesh; and he appealed for their safe, voluntary, and sustainable repatriation to their places of origin.
Turk concluded on Wednesday a two-day visit to Myanmar, during which he also called for unrestricted humanitarian access for communities in need, and for the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity.
Turk travelled to the capital Naypyitaw where he met with Myanmar’s Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor Kyaw Tint Swe, National Security Advisor Thaung Tun, Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, and Minister of Labour, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe.
During his meetings, he also called for unrestricted access so that humanitarian actors can provide life-saving aid and build confidence among communities in need.
The Assistant High Commissioner also emphasised the importance of the robust engagement of development stakeholders to invest in community-based programmes in Rakhine State that create conditions that enable sustainable reintegration of refugees.
Turk welcomed the government’s initiative to hold a joint workshop with UNHCR on the international standards guiding voluntary repatriation.
The Assistant High Commissioner reaffirmed that UNHCR stands ready to support the government and said he hoped that the workshop would be a step toward involving the UN Refugee Agency in the government’s plans for voluntary repatriation.
Turk further welcomed the renewed commitment of the government to rapidly implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission of Rakhine State and highlighted that they provide an important roadmap for the way forward.
The Assistant High Commissioner for Protection’s regional visit will continue in Thailand and conclude in Bangladesh early next week, according to UNHCR officials in Dhaka.