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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

UN Security Council urges Myanmar to ease Rohingyas' safe return

The UN envoy for Myanmar said the government was favourable towards a return to Rakhine

A Rohingya refugee makes her way back home after collecting relief aid during a rain storm at Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia on July 21, 2018. AFP
A Rohingya refugee makes her way back home after collecting relief aid during a rain storm at Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia on July 21, 2018. AFP

The United Nations Security Council on Monday urged Myanmar to step up efforts for Rohingya refugees to return to the country safely and voluntarily.

During a closed-door meeting, the 15-council members called for more social and economic development aid and facilitating the return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine state.

"The members of the Security Council continued to stress the importance of undertaking independent and transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations," a statement read.

The UN envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said the government was favourable towards a return to Rakhine for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who fled the area.

Government authorities "declared really openly that they want to bring them back," Ms Burgener said.

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But she noted that tensions remain in Rakhine between Rohingyas -- a Muslim minority -- and the Buddhist majority.

"So they want to bring them back but they have to come back voluntarily, safe, in dignity and in a sustainable manner," said Ms Burgener.

Talks with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi were "very constructive, very open, very friendly", the envoy added.

Ms Burgener said that Ms Suu Kyi, who has been criticised internationally for her handling of the crisis, "is aware about the difficulties and challenges".

The envoy has traveled to Myanmar twice since taking office two months ago and is set to visit the country again in September, with plans to travel to other states in the country.

In late August 2017, rebels from the Rohingya Muslim community took up arms, denouncing the ill-treatment of this stateless minority in Myanmar.

More than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled an offensive by Myanmar troops launched nearly a year ago in reprisal for attacks on border posts by Rohingya rebels.