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Pakistan points out plight of Rohingya Muslims at UN

A Rohingya woman carries her sick baby to a clinic at a refugee camp in Rakhine State of western Myanmar.

August 1, 2015

Dr Maleeha says Rohingya Muslims escaping from persecution, deadly violence

NEW YORK – Pakistan's permanent representative to United Nations Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi has said that a large number of Rohingya Muslims were reported dead or missing as they made their journeys of escape from persecution, confinement and waves of deadly violence directed at them.

She was addressing a panel discussion - sponsored and initiated by Pakistan – on the plight of refugees and migrants at a full-to-the-capacity conference room at the United Nations. Dr Maleeha said that Pakistan took the initiative to convene this panel because the world was confronted with a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions – a global wave of displacement and forced migrations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in East Asia and elsewhere.

Of the world's refugees, the envoy said that more than half were children, up from 41 per cent in 2009, the highest figure in over a decade. This only magnifies the scale of the tragedy at hand, she said, and pointed out that thousands of men, women and children have lost their lives and drowned in the Mediterranean, as they made their journeys of escape from persecution, confinement and waves of deadly violence.

– Rwanda and Srebrenica –

But the international community was not doing enough and not acting decisively, she said. “The international community to its shame has ignored massive human suffering in the past. We are reminded of Rwanda and Srebrenica among other crises. The current crisis of refugees could mark a new flag of shame,” she said. "Why have we not seen a decisive humanitarian response to this unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” she asked.

“Why is the present toolkit of political, legal, diplomatic and economic measures, falling so short of what is needed? Why has the global response not been able to decisively address symptoms much less deal with the underlying causes of this humanitarian crisis,” she questioned. “I would like to speak out today because, when confronted with a major refugee flow, my country, with modest resources, responded with much greater humanity and generosity than that we witnessing elsewhere today,” she said.

– 40% increase in forced displacement –

Dr Maleeha said that forced displacement has topped a record 60 million people globally a 40 per cent increase in just three years. Every day, she said a staggering number of people 42,500 were forced to leave their homes due to conflict and persecution. “Worldwide, one in every 122 persons is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum,” she told the delegates, citing Global Trends report of the UN’s refugee agency.

Mogens Lykketoft, former Dutch parliament speaker who was recently elected president of the UN General's Assembly's 70th session and Under Secretary General for Communication and Public Information Christina Gallach were also present, besides ambassadors and representatives of a number of countries including Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar as well senior UN officials.

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