China did little to help resolve Rohingya issue: US

The United States has said China has done “very little” to help resolve the Rohingya issue and for whom much more should be expected, considering the proximity to China of this humanitarian catastrophe.

“We hope that we see the same level of generosity and the same level of clarity in messages to the government of Myanmar from other partners or other nations in the Indo-Pacific, particularly China, who unfortunately has done very little to help resolve the Rohingya issue and for whom much more should be expected, considering the proximity,” said Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun on Tuesday.

In a telephonic briefing, Biegun said they certainly need to work in concert with all the countries in the region.

He said the United States recognises that a long-term refugee population is not an option.

“We’re going to work with equal urgency both to address the humanitarian needs of this population but also to find a lasting resolution,” Biegun said adding that they will work closely with the government of Bangladesh.

The Deputy Secretary of State spent quite a bit of time discussing with the government the status and fate of the more than 800,000 refugees from Rakhine State, who have taken refuge in Bangladesh after having been subjected to unacceptable violence and brutality in Myanmar.

“I had a chance to thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the generosity of the Bangladeshi people and the support of the Bangladeshi government in providing refuge for these displaced people,” he said.

Biegun also discussed with the Prime Minister as well as Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen how they can cooperate together in order to try to find a resolution of this issue.

Referring to donor’s conference on Thursday next, he said in the conference they will be working with many partners around the world to ensure that they urgently look for a long-term solution to the refugee population and also take adequate steps to provide the full support necessary for this large refugee population.

The United States sought equal role from Myanmar’s all neighbours with “broad and unified voice” so that Rohingyas can get the confidence back to return to their homeland without any fear of further deportation.

“We need every single one of Myanmar’s neighbours,” said US Deputy Secretary of State while responding to a question at a roundtable discussion with a small group of journalists in Dhaka recently.

Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest.

Biegun made it clear that this is not simply the responsibility of the government of Bangladesh, as generous as that government has been.

“This is a global priority and one that every major country in the Indo-Pacific should be speaking with equal outspokenness to the government of Myanmar to take the steps necessary to ease this crisis,” he said adding that they need to find out every possible means.

Biegun laid emphasis on international cooperation and collaboration staying outspoken like the US so that Myanmar ensures that Rohingyas will no longer be mistreated and they have confidence to start returning to the Rakhine State.

The Deputy Secretary of State said the US has been “quite outspoken” and used its “political influence” as much as possible to influence decisions inside Myanmar regarding the treatment and restoration of rights of these people.

He emphasised that this requires a regional and a global response. “All countries need to work together shoulder to shoulder.”

Biegun said they are very much agreed with the government of Bangladesh that a solution needs to be found to restore the rights and right of return of people who are currently in camps in Cox’s Bazar.

“We’ve to meet their immediate humanitarian needs, but we also have to redouble our efforts in the international community to reach a long-term solution,” he said.

During his recent visit, the US Deputy Secretary of State discussed the challenges and ways to get a permanent solution so that the government of Bangladesh and the people of Bangladesh do not permanently have to carry the weight of this on their own shoulders.

“The United States, of course, has been a very supportive partner. We’ll be raising a substantial amount of additional humanitarian assistance together as we seek to work for a more permanent solution to the resolution of that crisis,” Biegun said.

Repatriation attempts were failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ “lack of trust” on the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.

On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.