Rohingya crisis: Unicef head visits Rakhine, backs Annan’s recommendations

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Yangon, Jan 29 (IANS) The head of the UN children’s fund on Tuesday visited Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, a day after she urged the authorities to implement the recommendations of the panel headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resolve Rohingya crisis.

Henrietta Fore, the Unicef Executive Director, became the first head of the UN children’s fund to visit Myanmar in over 30 years. She visited a camp for displaced persons in Sittwe, Rakhine’s capital, Efe news reported.

Fore said the suggestions published in 2017 by the Annan-led commission would create the conditions for the safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh.

“We urge that the necessary steps are taken to enable their safe, voluntary and dignified return to their homes, where their rights are respected and they can once again live peaceably with their neighbours,” Fore said in an address at an event in Naypyidaw on the eve of her visit to Rakhine.

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Some 732,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape a military crackdown, which the UN has denounced as “deliberate genocide” and “textbook ethnic cleansing”.

The Unicef head said thousands of children in Bangladeshi territory were living a “precarious and almost hopeless existence”.

The Annan-chaired advisory commission was set up in 2016 at the request of Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to seek solutions to the sectarian violence in Rakhine.

The commission handed over its recommendations in August 2017, a day before an attack by Rohingya insurgents, to which the Myanmar Army responded with an offensive.

Among the 88 recommendations made by Annan was the granting of citizenship to Rohingyas and allowing them freedom of movement which has not yet happened.

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“It means ensuring humanitarian access in all parts of the country, to provide vital life-saving assistance to every child — health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, protection and education… not only as a matter of their rights, but as a necessary pathway to a more peaceful and stable Myanmar,” Fore said.

Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingyas as one of the nation’s ethnic groups but considers them to be illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, subjecting them to various kinds of discrimination, including restrictions on freedom of movement.

–IANS

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