Dhaka – The chief of UN refugee agency has urged for the creation of an atmosphere in Myanmar conducive to repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh for shelter.
“The most important is to create the condition at the other side [Myanmar]. You know the rest is much easier once the conditions are in place,” Filippo Grandi told reporters on Sunday in south-eastern Bangladeshi town of Cox’s Bazar about possible repatriation of the refugees.
After meeting a number of refuges on the ground, Grandi, who arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday, described the violence on the Muslim minority in Buddhist majority Myanmar as horrifying and devastating.
“The stories that I have heard of violence are horrifying and devastating,” the head of the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, added.
More than 430,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar for Bangladesh since a military crackdown resulted in the destruction of entire villages in Rakhine State.
He said the refugees, who flee their homes in the face of murder, arson and rape, are afraid to return to their homes now. But all need is stability.
“So at this moment, I think, it is very difficult, nobody can think of repatriation,” he said adding that UNHCR earlier assisted repatriation of Rohingya refugees for 12-13 years beginning in the 1990s.
Rohingya Muslims are in desperate need of shelter, food and medicine as many of them still living in the open waiving rain and sun in Cox’s Bazar district, bordering Myanmar.
Grandi said he has a plan “soon” to visit Myanmar as many people are internally displaced in northern Rakhine.
“I do hope that as soon as possible. I will be able to visit, but we have sent many messages… I have just mentioned,” the UN official told a questioner.
He, however, could not elaborate the situation saying “our access is very limited at this moment”.
A meeting of UNHCR governing board in Geneva next week will discuss the issue to resolve the problem. He said the refugees deserve more international attention at this moment.
“So we will have another opportunity to discuss with them how to help finding solution to this problem,” he said adding that the inflow of Rohingya refugee has declined by now.