Difficult for Rohingya Refugees to Return to Myanmar: Expert

Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said Monday the Government’s failure to redress discriminatory laws against the Rohingya made it impossible for hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to their homes anytime soon.

“As it is now clear that the Government of Myanmar has made no progress or shown any real will to dismantle the system of discrimination in the country’s laws, policies and practices, and to make northern Rakhine State safe, the Rohingya refugees will not be returning to Myanmar in the near future,” she said at the end of a 10-day visit to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on 8 July.

During her visit, Lee met Government officials, UN entities, humanitarian organisations, protection actors, and civil socity organisations. She visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and “no man’s land” between Myanmar and Bangladesh where approximately 4,500 Rohingyas currently live.

The Special Rapporteur said that from her discussions with refugees and humanitarian actors, three things were urgently needed to ensure the future of Rohingya refugee community in Cox’s Bazar: access to education; meaningful livelihood opportunities and vocational training for women and men; and freedom of movement.

“I urge the Government to repeal and amend the problematic laws that I have repeatedly flagged and undertake the necessary work to ensure people in Myanmar do not live in a climate of fear while exercising their fundamental democratic rights,” she said.

Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011).

She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center.

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