Chittagong, Bangladesh: The United States Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Eric P. Schwartz, said on June 9 that no forced repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Burma should occur, according to a press conference at the American Centre in Dhaka.
“Nobody should be forced to return against their will to a place where their lives and their freedom will be in danger.”
“Voluntary return of Rohingya in large numbers will only be possible when the basic rights of these people can be safeguarded. And, sadly, today that is not the case.”
“Until such change comes in Burma, the United States will continue to do what we can do to assist the government and the people of Bangladesh to assist the Rohingya.”
“The solution of the Rohingya refugee issue in Bangladesh lies in Burma, and the voluntary return of the refugees to the country is still not possible.”
Eric P. Schwartz arrived in Dhaka on June 7, for a three-day visit to the country to explore issues relating to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and in the region.
During his visit, he met with Rohingya camp officials in Cox’s Bazaar, officials of adjoining community areas, members of the local communities, representatives of international organizations and non-governmental organizations, along with several ministers and top government officials.
“Ultimately, decisions on what assistance will or will not be provided will be the sovereign decision of the government of Bangladesh,” Schwartz said.
“The US government appreciates the Bangladesh government and its people for hosting the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled persecution in southwestern Burma.”
“The regime in Burma systematically denies human rights and freedom of the Rohingya. This is a humanitarian problem, which has a political solution.”
“Until there is a political solution, it is up to all of us to try and provide assistance to the victims.”
“I think it’s critical for all of us to remember and emphasize that these individuals are guilty of nothing other than a desire to flee repression and create a better life for themselves and for their families.”
“The US Assistant Secretary of State Eric P. Schwartz, accompanied by officials from the Bangladesh government, UNHCR, and other International NGOs, visited our camp at around 12 noon, on June 8”, said a camp official.