UN urges Bangladesh not to close door to Myanmar refugees

The United Nations on Friday stressed that refugees fleeing conflict should be granted safe haven after Bangladesh declared that it would no longer take in Myanmar’s Rohingya. (File/ AFP)
Updated 02 March 2019

UN urges Bangladesh not to close door to Myanmar refugees

  • Around 740,000 Muslim Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh after they were driven out of Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state during a military campaign in 2017
  • Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the Security Council that the refugee crisis had gone from “bad to worse”

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations on Friday stressed that refugees fleeing conflict should be granted safe haven after Bangladesh declared that it would no longer take in Myanmar’s Rohingya.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the Security Council on Thursday that the refugee crisis had gone from “bad to worse” and deplored the fact that none of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya sheltering in his country had returned home.
“Bangladesh has been amazingly generous in the support they have given the Rohingya refugees,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“It is important that people fleeing conflict are able to find safe haven wherever they go.”
Under a deal reached with Bangladesh, Myanmar agreed to take back some of the refugees, but the United Nations insists that the safety of the Rohingya be a condition for their return.
Haque told a council meeting on Myanmar that “Bangladesh would no longer be in a position to accommodate more people from Myanmar,” suggesting that his government was ready to close the border to refugees.
Around 740,000 Muslim Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh after they were driven out of Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state during a military campaign in 2017 that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.
“Is Bangladesh paying the price for being responsive and responsible in showing empathy to a persecuted minority population of a neighboring country?” asked the foreign secretary.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is conducting an internal review of the world body’s operations in Myanmar following accusations that UN officials in the country ignored warning signs of the attacks against the Rohingya.
The UN spokesman said the review led by Guatemalan diplomat Gert Rosenthal was to provide “possible lessons learned for the future” and advise on the way forward.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper first reported on the inquiry on Tuesday that will focus on the UN’s failure to prevent the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
Some of the criticism has focussed on allegations that the UN resident coordinator, Renata Lok-Dessallien, downplayed concerns about worsening abuses against the Rohingya and sought to prioritize economic development at the expense of human rights.
The UN has denied those claims.


Two French confirmed dead in Beirut blast, France steps up probe

Updated 1 min 45 sec ago

Two French confirmed dead in Beirut blast, France steps up probe

  • The death of one French victim — prominent Lebanon-based architect Jean-Marc Bonfils — had already been confirmed but the second victim has yet to be publicly identified
  • Investigators and police from France have already been at the scene in Beirut for several days to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the explosion

PARIS: France has stepped up its probe into the massive Beirut port blast last week by handing it to investigating magistrates, prosecution sources said Friday, as it was confirmed two French citizens were among the 171 people killed.
The investigation has now been entrusted to two magistrates who can ultimately decide whether to press charges over the August 4 blast, a source in the office of the Paris prosecutor told AFP.
Another source, who asked not to be named, said two French citizens were now confirmed to have been killed in the explosion.
The death of one French victim — prominent Lebanon-based architect Jean-Marc Bonfils — had already been confirmed but the second victim has yet to be publicly identified.
French prosecutors on August 5 opened a probe into “involuntary injury” using their jurisdiction to investigate acts committed abroad when French people are among the victims.
Investigators and police from France have already been at the scene in Beirut for several days to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the explosion.
The FBI will also join Lebanese investigators at the invitation of the Lebanese government, the US State Department said Thursday.
The explosion has been blamed on a vast stock of ammonium nitrate left for years in a warehouse at the port despite repeated warnings.
Lebanon’s government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned this week following days of demonstrations demanding accountability over the disaster.
Lebanese authorities have pledged a swift investigation and judicial officials said Wednesday the prosecution would question ministers and former ministers.
President Michel Aoun has rejected calls from world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, and many Lebanese for an independent international investigation as a “waste of time.”