CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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United Nations chief visits Rohingya refugee camps

Dhaka (UCAN): “In Cox’s Bazar, I have heard unimaginable accounts of killings and rape from Rohingya refugees who recently fled Myanmar. They want justice and a safe return home,” the secretary of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, wrote in a Twitter post following a visit to several Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on July 2.  
 
He was joined on the visit by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) chief, Filippo Grandi, and Word Bank president, Jin Yong-kim.
 
“It is systematic violation of human rights. Rohingya people are the most discriminated people in the world. They need recognition … the most basic rights of citizens from the government of Myanmar,” Guterres said at a press conference in Cox’s Bazar immediately after the visit.
 
Before the visitors arrived, dozens of refugees demonstrated outside the camps holding placards that read “We want safe return to Myanmar” and “We want citizenship.”
 
Although they were dispersed them before the high-profile guests arrived, the refugees said they were glad and hopeful for the UN chief’s visit.
 
“This gives us hope that one day, justice will be meted out over the atrocities we have endured in Myanmar and that one day we can go back home safely and with dignity,” Muhammad Rezwan, from Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, said.
 
The 26-year-old Rezwan fled to Bangladesh from the Maungdaw area of Rakhine State, Myanmar, in mid-October 2017 with his parents and four siblings. They live in two makeshift bamboo houses in the camp and rely on rations from aid groups for survival.
 
“I believe the UN and the international community will put pressure on Myanmar so that we have basic rights including citizenship before we go back home,” he said.
 
Abul Hasan, a community leader from the Lombasia refugee camp, expressed scepticism over the Rohingya repatriation agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and called for strong international intervention to resolve the crisis.
 
“Myanmar and Bangladesh signed the agreement without consulting us refugees and we don’t know what is in it or whether it guarantees our safe return and a life of dignity in our homeland,” said Hasan, a 45-year-old father of five.
 
“The UN visit gives us hope that the international community is making us a priority, and I want to see their intervention bring an end to persecution, impunity as well as assurances of basic rights and citizenship,” he said.
 
Muhammad Abul Kalam, commissioner of the state-run Refugee Relief and Repatriation Committee, called the visit was a positive gesture.
 
“Now they have seen everything with their own eyes, they can feel the depth of the crisis. I believe they will help refugees get more international support in terms of aid and for their repatriation,” Kalam said.

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