UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has told the UN Security Council that over 800,000 Myanmar Rohingya were probably in the “most acute” situation.
“We spoke about some of the most complex crisis in Africa especially South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he told reporters outside the council’s chambers.
“There was much focus on the situation in Bangladesh — Rohingya refugees coming from Myanmar — and the way forward in that crisis which is probably the most acute at the moment.”
Of those 800,000 refugees, the UN officials said 607,000 fled violence in northern Rakhine State since August 25 when Rohingya rebels allegedly staged deadly attacks against security posts, triggering retributions from government forces and civilian vigilantes. Villages were torched and villagers fled in face of deadly violence.
Access to northern Rakhine State — one of the least developed in Myanmar — has been tightly restricted, although a senior UN official flew over part of the terrorized area last month and reported seeing burnt-out villages.
“There was support for the role the UNHCR can play in facilitating discussion on voluntary safe and dignified return if and when conditions are created in Rakhine State for this to happen,” the head of the UN Refugee Agency said.
“We spoke about important overlaps of the agenda of my office … and the agenda of the Security Council.”
He explained that since refugees are a humanitarian issue they are discussed within the UNHCR as “a non-political manner”, but it is an issue which overlaps with the peace and security agenda of the Security Council.
So, the solutions for refugee problems “are essentially political”, he added.
Grandi said the problem for the Rohingya refugees is to “safely and in a dignified manner go back home” .
Thursday’s Security Council session “was an opportunity to exchange views on all these matters, both policy issues and operational issues”.