UN chief applauds Bangladesh for ‘opening borders’ to Rohingya refugees in need

1 July Sunday, Dhaka: On mission in Bangladesh, the Secretary-General praised the country for keeping its borders open and receiving those in need of international protection.

“In a world where so many borders are closed, [the people and Government of Bangladesh] have opened their borders and received their brothers and sisters coming from Myanmar and from the terrible events there,” said Mr. Guterres in the capital Dhaka on Sunday.

Mr. Guterres noted the progress made by Bangladesh since its independence and highlighted the country’s integration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its national planning frameworks, as an “example that many others can follow.”

He called for greater political will to realize the commitments made through the 2015 Paris climate change agreement and urged countries to raise their ambition to limit temperature rises.

The Secretary-General and the World Bank Group President also visited the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum which was the house of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman, the first President of Bangladesh and father of the current Prime Minister. He and other members of his family were assassinated there in August 1975 by a group of soldiers.

Later in the evening, the Secretary-General and his delegation were hosted for an official dinner by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. 

On his mission, Mr. Guterres is being accompanied by number of senior UN officials, including the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Natalia Kanem.

On Monday, they are due to travel to Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh to visit Rohingya refugee communities and humanitarian workers.

Since late August 2017, violence against Myanmar’s mainly-Muslim minority Rohingya, forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes in Rakhine state and seek refuge across the border, in Bangladesh. Prior to that, well over 200,000 Rohingya refugees were already sheltering in Bangladesh as a result of earlier displacements.

Even though the number of new arrivals has tapered off, and an agreement has been reached between the UN on the ground and the government, over establishing conditions in Myanmar to allow refugees’ voluntary and safe return, UN agencies there have reported that such conditions have not yet materialized.

As of 24 May, there are an estimated 905,000 refugees in Cox’s Bazar. To address the ongoing and increasing needs, the UN launched a Joint Response Plan in March, urging $951 million to provide life-saving assistance the refugees and host communities. However, the appeal remains only 18 per cent funded.