DHAKA : US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C Richard on Friday said the international community needs to put more pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya issue saying it is Myanmar’s responsibility to take back its nationals, reports UNB.
“What can be done to change the current situation? I think it’s the international pressure, I think it’s pressure from governments like ours,” she said.
The US official made the remarks while talking to a select group of journalists after wrapping up her four-day visit to Bangladesh.
Charge d’ Affaires at the US Embassy in Dhaka David Meale and Press and Information Officer Monica Shie were also present.
The US Assistant Secretary, however, did not favour settling the Rohingya refuges by a third country. “It’s (third country settlement) definitely an option but it’s not a good idea.”
Responding to a question, she said the Rohingya refuges in two camps in Cox’s Bazar district preferred staying in Bangladesh despite having not ideal living conditions. “They enjoy a certain degree of freedom here.”
Sharing her experience of visiting the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, she said the living condition is not ideal as they live in crowed camps but it is safe to live in camps when they have nothing for shelter.
“Our dream of course is that the Rohingyas are given a place in Burma- Rakhaine State where they are able to live with their neighbours in a peaceful place,” Anne Richard said adding that she knows it is possible but still a dream which they share with all.
Responding to another question, the Assistant Secretary said they are agreeing with each other that it is the responsibility of the Myanmar government to make changes so that their people can go home.
May be a small fraction will never be able to go home and there should be a ‘perfectly appropriate’ decision for their resettlement, she said adding, “Can I go home tomorrow? No. That would not be wise.”
Anne said Ronhingyas should be treated decently with a solution so that they can go back to their own home without any fear.
She said local and international non-government organisations have a role to play and she found the NGOs as strong players at local level.
Responding to a question, the US official said they are already talking to each other – the US government, IOM and UNHCR – with ‘very visible’ works but there is much work to be done. “I think the most interesting thing is commitment.”
Anne Richard said she had a very productive meetings with the government officials and other stakeholders.
Earlier on Wednesday, Anne said her country is committed to resettling refugees who cannot return home saying it wants to expand partnership with Bangladesh. “We look forward to expanding our partnership.