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Addressing Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh proposes UN-monitored ‘safe zones’ in Myanmar

Myanmar must stop “ethnic cleansing” in Rakhine state, and “safe zones” should be created inside that country to protect all civilians, under the supervision of the United Nations, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the General Assembly today.

“I have come here just after seeing the hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingya from Myanmar who took shelter in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh,” Ms. Hasina said during the annual general debate. “This forcibly displaced people of Myanmar are fleeing an ‘ethnic cleansing’ in their own country where they have been living for centuries.”

She noted that her country is currently sheltering over 800,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar and that the ongoing atrocities and human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state once again aggravated the situation at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

She proposed that Myanmar unconditionally stop the practice of “ethnic cleansing” in Rakhine immediately and forever and the UN Secretary-General immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar.

She also proposed that “safe zones” be created inside Myanmar to protect all civilians irrespective of religion and ethnicity under UN supervision and all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh return to their homes in Myanmar in a sustainable manner.

As a major troop- and police-contributing country, Bangladesh underscores the importance of upholding effectiveness and credibility of UN peacekeeping operations, and maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse, the Prime Minister said, adding that she endorsed the UN “voluntary compact” on this issue.