US presses Suu Kyi for Rohingya return


The United States has pressed the Myanmar government to end conflict across the country and secure the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya and other refugees and internally displaced persons.

The call came when Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale spoke with Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday, Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.

Hale talked with Suu Kyi “to reaffirm American support for democratic reforms and humanitarian relief efforts in Burma and a credible, transparent, and inclusive national election in November.”

Bangladesh has given shelter to over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Most of them arrived after the August 2017 military crackdown which the UN terms ‘a textbook example of ethnic cleansing’.

“Under Secretary Hale pressed the Burmese government to end conflict across the country and secure the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya and other refugees and internally displaced persons,” read the statement.

Washington is supportive of Bangladesh in the Rohingya issue.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun during his recent visit to Bangladesh sought an 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 [to have that done]," he had said.

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.

He had also encouraged all Myanmar's neighbours to be quite clear about the expectations they all have regarding the treatment of Rohingya people and creation of a safe environment to help Rohingyas return to their homes.

“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 had said, adding that 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. 

“All countries need to work together shoulder to shoulder,” he had said.

The US, led by Stephen E. Biegun, recently co-hosted a virtual Rohingya Refugee Donor Conference along with the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 

During the conference, they also highlighted the need to sustain international support for the humanitarian response, address root causes of the Rohingya crisis, and expand opportunities and the freedom for Rohingya to live their lives with dignity.

Importantly, the international conference served to drive investment in host communities and build resiliency to help mitigate the pressures of hosting large populations of refugees, such as the more than 860,000 UNHCR-registered Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Biegun announced nearly $200 million in additional humanitarian assistance that the US government provided at the Fiscal Year 2020.