The Daily Star

Your Right To Know
Monday, February 8, 2016

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Front Page

Recognise Rohingyas as Myanmar citizens

UN under-secretary-general urges Yangon in an interview with The Daily Star

Valerie Amos

Myanmar should recognise its ethnic minority Rohingyas as citizens, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos has said.

"It's a great pity that the Rohingyas are treated as equivalent of football in a field. I am very concerned about the denial of basic rights to the Rohingyas. It's important that Myanmar recognise them. Government of Myanmar should recognise its ethnic minority as citizens," she said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Star at a city hotel yesterday.

Valerie Amos spent two days in Dhaka on the first leg of her week-long three-nation visit that will also take her to Myanmar today and Thailand on Saturday.

Amos, the first black woman ever in a UK cabinet and also the first black Leader of the British House of Lords, appreciated that Bangladesh played host to Rohingya refugees in the past, and said she also expect that when "they're (Rohingyas) persecuted, they get some supports."

Without giving details, Amos said she had talks with the Bangladesh foreign minister on Ronhingya issue as well. Besides, she had meetings with the disaster management minister, non-governmental organisations and the UN Country Team in Bangladesh to discuss disaster preparedness.

In Myanmar, Amos said, the violence in Rakhine state has affected all communities, but particularly the Rohingyas. Her office allocated $11 million this year for humanitarian relief. A Saudi government pledge of $50 million, she said, would help humanitarian agencies to step up their activities in Myanmar, and help "us to reach more people."

During her visit to Myanmar, Amos is expected to highlight humanitarian concerns in that country and discuss with the Myanmar authorities concrete steps to address the challenges and moves towards reconciliation and stability. She is scheduled to visit the trouble-torn Rakhine State apart from visiting the nation's capital.

In Thailand, Amos is scheduled to hold a press briefing in Bangkok on December 8 to talk with the regional media about her mission and its findings.

She said Bangladesh is an example of good risk management capabilities with its records of minimising casualties in big disasters. "This is also one of the reasons why I am here -- to learn from Bangladesh's experience and apply Bangladesh example elsewhere."

While praising the country's cyclone preparedness, Amos underscored the need for further consolidating the nation's preparedness to tackle any eventuality of earthquakes striking the country.

In this regard, she mentioned the recent appointment of a humanitarian affairs adviser at the UN Resident Coordinator's office in Dhaka.

Gerson Brandao, the adviser, who was sitting near her during the interview, said Bangladesh targeted to train up 62,000 volunteers to assist government agencies in any eventuality of tremors striking the country, and "so far, 18,000 are already trained up."

Through different UN agencies, Bangladesh got support worth $31 million in 2011, said Brandao. The country also hosted a Saarc region workshop on cooperation on search and rescue operations in May this year.

Amos said, "Outstanding thing here (in Bangladesh) is good presence of volunteer community. When disaster strikes, community knows the best about how to tackle the aftermath."

Her colleague from the Bangkok regional office Oliver Lacey-Hall, who also was present during the interview, said Bangladesh contributed hugely in drafting a guide for disaster management, which should be ready for publication and dissemination throughout the world by the turn of the year.

Expressing a deep sense of sorrow at so many fire deaths in Bangladesh's garment industry, Amos said, "We always encourage the governments to ensure building code in setting up factories and also ensuring proper fire exits in factories where large number of workers are employed."

According to statistics provided by Amos, the UN coordinated humanitarian relief for 56 million people in 33 countries last year. But, she said, overall needs were even greater than that. Disasters and emergencies affected 245 million people and caused record-breaking economic losses of $366 billion, she added.

Share on


He/She is the real man who loves all creation of Gods.

: nazrul islam

Knowing that Myanmar is at fault so why is the West rolling out its red carpet to its leaders and why is the Buddhist outside Myanmar not condemning these heinous crimes of Buddhist Monks in Myanmar against the poor Rohingya Muslims is simply bizarre!

: Selma


  • Manzoor Ashraf
    Tuesday, December 4, 2012 02:29 AM GMT+06:00 (166 weeks ago)

    Why did she not visit the Rohiongya Refugees in Bangladesh? And when will they go back to Myanmar?

  • dashade
    Tuesday, December 4, 2012 04:17 AM GMT+06:00 (166 weeks ago)

    Does Myanmar have to pick up the pieces [of Muslim illegal immigrants]? Why should India accept the same illegal immigrants, also from Bangladesh? Why are the pictures of the smashed and burnt Buddha no longer shown on the internet? Instead of sending money, why do not the Muslim/Islamic countries take in these people?

  • Saidur Rahman
    Tuesday, December 4, 2012 07:26 AM GMT+06:00 (166 weeks ago)

    Recent history has the witnesses that the Rohingyas moved freely in an undivided territory between Chittagong port areas, river sides and the coastal lines of the Mughal and British Bengal, and the Akyab port areas including Rangoon. Aung San Suu Kyi seems not to have understood the Junta policies about the Rohingya issue, so does she keep away from her anticipated quarrels with the Myanmar rulers. So pathetic and miserable a life that the Rohigyas are bearing! How do the Myanmar juntas consider their lives like fishes that can be chased, caught, burnt, and killed without sympathy? The Governments of Bangladesh as usual have rather shown sympathy and tolerance, and provided all humanitarian support to these tortured people. The people of Bangladesh cannot be barbaric, but the leaders of this country need strong diplomatic mechanism to practically engage all international communities in answering the long-unanswered question regarding the Rohingyas, and resolving the crisis over return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.





The Daily Star

©, 1991-2016. All Rights Reserved