Statement by Sweden at the Security Council Briefing on Myanmar
National Statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Myanmar, 28 September 2017, New York.
Let me thank the Secretary-General for your very clear briefing and for your leadership in response to the crisis in Myanmar. As Minister Margot Wallström said in the General Assembly last week, the situation in Myanmar is a haunting example of where the seeds of conflict have gone unresolved, with tragic consequences. Once again, we see the human cost of not investing enough in prevention.
The crisis in Rakhine State, which has existed for decades, has dramatically escalated. The situation is now critical, with devastating humanitarian consequences, and there are clear implications for regional stability.
Two thirds of the estimated Rohingya population in Rakhine state is now in Bangladesh. The level of displacement has led to a crisis described by High Commissioner Filippo Grandi as the most urgent refugee emergency in the world today.
Those arriving in Bangladesh have given horrific and heartbreaking accounts of unimaginable violence and abuse. Reports of sexual and gender-based violence are gravely concerning.
In addition, large numbers of people, including non-Muslims, have been displaced within Rakhine. But, the total number of internally displaced people has not been established. Their level of need is unknown, due to lack of access.
Let me take a moment here, Mr President, to pay tribute to the Government of Bangladesh for their hospitality and generosity to the refugees. I also thank the humanitarian agencies for their swift response. My country has contributed significantly to efforts to increase the humanitarian response capacity in Bangladesh and we call on others to do the same.
The crisis in Rakhine state is complex and multidimensional. It requires a comprehensive and sustained response, with support from the international community. At the same time, in light of the immediate needs of those displaced inside and outside of the country, a number of issues now need to be addressed urgently.
Firstly, we note the statement of the Government of Myanmar that security operations in Rakhine ceased on 05 September. However, displacement has continued since then. The continuing reports of violence are very worrying, including reports of the burning of Rohingya villages and of violence against civilians.
We call on Myanmar to ensure the immediate suspension of all military and security operations. All violence must end. The government has the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all communities without discrimination.
Secondly, we urge the government to grant immediate, full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the United Nations and its partners to all areas, so that they can reach those in urgent need of lifesaving assistance. The humanitarian actors are ready to respond. Assistance arrangements in northern Rakhine with the Red Cross Movement are insufficient to address the massive needs. We note ongoing discussions with ASEAN regarding the humanitarian response, and we also note the tireless efforts of the Indonesian foreign minister.
Ending the violence and ensuring access to all populations in need of humanitarian assistance is critical and urgent in order to save lives and prevent human suffering; however, this alone will not end the crisis.
It is essential that the Government of Myanmar, with the support of the international community, now move swiftly to ensure that those who have fled the country can return to their places of origin in a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable manner.
Ensuring that refugees are registered in line with international standards will help facilitate this. People who decide to return must not be placed in camps, or camp-like environments, which risk becoming long-term.
We welcome the Government's commitment to implement the recommendations set out in the Annan Report within the shortest time possible, and urge it to do so without delay. These recommendations provide a clear roadmap to address the root causes of this long running crisis, most notably by addressing the situation of citizenship for the Rohingya. Full implementation of the recommendations would deliver development, and benefit all communities in Rakhine. Ending incitement, defusing inter-communal tensions and rebuilding trust between the communities in Rakhine will be important in this regard.
Those responsible for human rights abuses and violations as well as other crimes must be brought to justice. It is important that the facts and circumstances on the ground are fully established.
The government must engage with the Fact Finding Mission of the Human Rights Council and we urge the government to provide access without delay.
The international community stands ready to support the Government and people of Myanmar in their efforts to resolve the crisis in Rakhine State and to provide urgent humanitarian assistance. In this regard, we encourage the government to cooperate with Bangladesh as well as to continue to engage with ASEAN.
We also urge the Government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the United Nations. The government must counter narratives and rhetoric that seek to undermine the ability of the UN to do its work. Going forward, the United Nations also has the capacity and is ready to support the government as it implements the Annan recommendations.
It is now urgent to put an end to violence, to ensure immediate, full and safe humanitarian access, and that safe and dignified return be allowed as soon as the situation allows. At the same time, the decades-long cycle of violence and displacement suffered by the Rohingya people must be addressed.
The Annan Report provides the way forward. We urge the Government of Myanmar to take this opportunity to bring an end to the conflict once and for all, allowing the country to move forward with its important development efforts and to continue its democratic transition with all communities in peace.
It is important that the Council remains seized and stands united in finding a peaceful resolution to this crisis.