M Mushfiqul Fazal
UN Refugee Agency has called for renewed support and lasting solutions for the displaced Rohingya communities both within and outside Myanmar.
"The international community must not only maintain support for refugees and their host communities, but also adapt to critical needs and expand the search for solutions," UNHCR Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said in a press briefing in Geneva today.
Challenges persist and continue to evolve three years on from the latest exodus of Rohingyas who fled Myanmar and sought sanctuary in Bangladesh from August 2017 onwards, UNHCR said. And the Covid-19 pandemic has added additional complexities to the Rohingyas.
Rohingya communities estimate that up to three-quarters of the Rohingya people are today living outside of Myanmar. UNHCR and Bangladesh have individually registered over 860,000 Rohingya refugees in the refugee settlements in Cox's Bazar.
"Bangladesh has demonstrated a profound humanitarian commitment to Rohingya refugees, ensured their protection and extended life-saving humanitarian support, and now hosts nine out of ten Rohingya refugees registered in the Asia-Pacific region," said Andrej.
"This generosity must be acknowledged through continued investment in both Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities."
Ultimately, the solution to the plight of the Rohingya lies in Myanmar, and in comprehensively implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, to which the Government of Myanmar has committed, he said.
Creating conditions that are conducive to the Rohingya people's safe and sustainable return will require whole of society engagement, resuming and enhancing the dialogue between the Myanmar authorities and Rohingya refugees, as well as other measures that help inspire trust, the UN Refugee Agency said.
"These include lifting restrictions on freedom of movement, reconfirming that internally displaced Rohingya can return to their own villages and providing a clear pathway towards citizenship."
Outside Myanmar, the collective efforts must be directed not only to ensuring the dignity and well-being of the Rohingya today but also on preserving their hopes and improving prospects for their futures, Andrej said.
"This means working towards lasting solutions not only in Myanmar itself, but also through study and work opportunities outside of countries of asylum, and third-country pathways for those with the most acute vulnerabilities."
The strength and resilience of the Rohingya people in exile in Bangladesh and elsewhere have formed the backbone of the humanitarian response over the past three years, and supported the communities hosting them in turn.
"Respecting and recognising their courage and capacities means ensuring they are not forgotten as the crisis enters the fourth year," UNHCR said.