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US will continue pressuring Myanmar to resolve Rohingya crisis: Ambassador

February 1, 2017

US Ambassador in Dhaka Mercia Bernicat has said Washington will continue to put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

Visiting the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, she on Tuesday said, “The issue can only be resolved in Myanmar, can only be resolved through understanding that the community has a home and has an origin, has a reason to be in Myanmar.”

She said they had been pressuring the Myanmar government at the most senior levels. “And we will continue to put the pressure on.”

Her comment came at a time when the members of Myanmar government-constituted committee investigating violence in Rakhine State are visiting Bangladesh.

Chair of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission U Win Mra, former Lebanese culture minister and UN Special Adviser to Secretary-General, Ghassan Salame, and Core Member and Founder of Religious for Peace in Myanmar U Aye Lwin arrived in Dhaka on Saturday.

The delegation visited the camps in Cox's Bazaar on Sunday and on Tuesday met Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and took part at a closed-door discussion at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in Dhaka.

After the meeting at the BIISS, Salame told journalists that the key to resolving the crisis is “to have a better situation in Rakhine State”.

“I think there are huge opportunities for everybody in the State the moment basic human rights and the rule of law are reestablished there for everybody.”

The home minister told journalists said they had briefed the delegation about Bangladesh’s position and they said that they would try at the local and international level to resolve the crisis.

“They will submit a report based on what they listened from us,” he said, adding that he had also pointed out that the ongoing crisis in Rakhine had hampered economic development in the Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar region.

Asked if the commission said something opposite to Bangladesh's claims during the visit, Kamal said, "They would have said so if they found something else, which means they acknowledged what we've said."

According to the foreign ministry, nearly 400,000 Myanmar nationals including 65,000 recent arrivals, after the Oct 9 violence in Rakhine State, are staying in Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government last year established the commission for finding a lasting solution to the “complex and delicate” issues of the state.

The nine-member Advisory Commission, a national initiative to resolve protracted issues in the region, is chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

It is composed of three international and six national ‘persons of eminence’ who are “highly experienced, respected and neutral individuals”.

The commission is mandated to undertake meetings with all relevant stakeholders, international experts and foreign dignitaries to hear their views and analyse the “best possible solutions to prevailing problems”.

It will consider humanitarian and development issues, access to essential services, the assurance of basic rights, and the security of the people of Rakhine.

After consultations, they will submit their findings and recommendations to the Myanmar government through State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, according to her office.

Bangladesh government has also formed four committees to identify the Rohingyas and stop further influx from Myanmar.

The National Coordination Committee and National Taskforce to deport undocumented citizens from Myanmar, headed by the foreign minister and foreign secretary respectively, will coordinate the new committees.

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