US welcomes Malaysia’s remarks during UN event on refugees

US welcomes Malaysia’s remarks during UN event on refugees

NEW YORK,. As the Rohingya refugee crisis continues to grab international headlines, the United States (US) administration which has steadily intensified its humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, has welcomed Malaysia’s remarks during the United Nations’ (UN) high-level event on the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR).

Malaysian Foreign Ministry multilateral affairs deputy secretary-general, Kennedy Jawan had said, among others, that Malaysia would continue to call for international support for Bangladesh, where some 700,000 Rohingya had found refuge since fleeing Rakhine State.

There are currently 139,743 Myanmars who constitute some 87 per cent of the refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia. Of this, 77,133 are Rohingya.

Jawan said the Rohingya situation needed urgent attention and a long-term solution which would address basic human rights concerns and the future of the Rohingya community.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Richard Albright expressed appreciation for Malaysia and Asean countries in admitting Rohingya refugees.

“Well, we certainly — I mean, there are Rohingya who have moved and fled to other Asean countries — a significant number, over 100,000, I think. And we certainly appreciate those countries’ efforts to host these people who have fled, and give them shelter and provide services, access to services. And that’s a very good thing and it’s very commendable,” he told Bernama at the State Department’s New York Foreign Press Centre.

Asked to comment on the extent to which the US was willing to exercise pressure on Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been conspicuously very quiet on the Rohingya issue, he said:

“Look, I can’t comment on the internal dynamics within the Burmese — or the Myanmar Government. But I mean — we have been very consistent in our messaging to everyone there, whether officials in the military, in the civilian government, up and down the line, about our concerns for what happened, our concerns about accountability, our concerns about improving the conditions for this population so that people can return in safety and dignity and security.”

Security and foreign policy experts have been cautioning that too much pressure could result in a roll-back to the time when Myanmar was under military rule; consequently, there was a certain limit on the extent to which the US was willing to go to avoid upsetting the balance of power within Myanmar.

Albright underscored US generosity in extending assistance to refugees in Myanmar and in other flashpoints where thousands of civilians were forced to flee.

Indeed, during a ministerial level meeting on Myanmar early this week, US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Nikki Haley, announced more than US$185 million (RM766 million) by way of additional humanitarian assistance for refugees in Myanmar and Bangladesh affected by the Rakhine state crisis.

The new funding, which includes US$156 million for Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, is designed to support the implementation of critical emergency services, including protection, emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation, health care and psychosocial support.

“The United States is proud to be the leading donor of life-saving assistance to displaced persons, refugees and host communities in Burma (the US still uses the old moniker ‘Burma’ in lieu of Myanmar) and Bangladesh. Still, more needs to be done, so we need other countries to do their part as well. We continue to call on the Burmese Government to do more to hold those who have engaged in ethnic cleansing accountable for their atrocities , end the violence, and allow full humanitarian and free press access. And we greatly appreciate Bangladesh’s unwavering generosity in hosting and caring for the refugees,” said Haley.

This additional funding brings US humanitarian assistance in response to the Rakhine State crisis to nearly US$389 million since the outbreak of violence in August 2017, when Myanmar’s security forces began committing widespread atrocities against Rohingya villagers across northern Rakhine.

Bangladesh now hosts nearly one million refugees, most of whom are Rohingya women and children who have taken refuge since the start of the violence. — Bernama