UNHCR chief urges Asia-Pacific leaders to show ‘solidarity’ with Rohingya refugees

Head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi on Tuesday urged government representatives and business leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to offer more support and protection for over 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled violence and discrimination in Myanmar's Rakhine State over the past year.

I urge you to consider what support your governments could pledge in solidarity with Bangladesh until solutions are found for refugees, Grandi said, addressing ministers of 26 countries in Bali, Indonesia, at the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process.

We need also to work towards comprehensive solutions for the people of Rakhine State, so that they are not forced to move in the first place, he added.

The Bali Process is a forum made up of 48 governments and four international organizations - including UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) - which was set up to enable dialogue and discussion on issues relating to people-smuggling, human trafficking and related cross-border crime.

Since late August 2017, widespread and systematic violence against Myanmar's mainly Muslim minority Rohingya has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes in Rakhine State for Bangladesh. Prior to that, well over 200,000 Rohingya refugees were sheltering in vast, makeshift camps in Bangladesh as a result of earlier displacements.

In his Tuesday's address, UNHCR chief urged governments to move from consultation to action on the commitments they made in the Declaration, asking them to consider how they could share Bangladesh's refugee burden.

He also stressed that the real solution lies in Myanmar itself, and he appealed for regional support to address the root causes of displacement in Rakhine including investment in infrastructure that connects communities instead of dividing them as well as providing expertise on resolving statelessness and intercommunal conflict.

Source: International Islamic News Agency