ICRC President: Sustained humanitarian action still needed in Myanmar and Bangladesh

Speech to UNGA High-Level Event

27 September 2018

New York – Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), called on the international community to move out of political deadlock, find answers to questions of accountability, and find long-term political solutions to the situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

"The Rakhine crisis has become one of the most visible internationalized and also politicized situations," Mr Maurer said. "As the past year has proven, answers will not come overnight and sustained humanitarian action continues to be needed for those who stayed, those who fled, and the communities who receive refugees and displaced."

At the High-Level Event held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Mr Maurer identified a key dilemma surrounding the issue of return of people who have fled.

"People who have been forcibly displaced have a right to return in safety and dignity. Yet, for this to be sustainable, people need to see their needs met, their rights and security ensured," Mr Maurer said. "My current assessment is that much more needs to be done to create safe, dignified and voluntary conditions so that people can return to Rakhine State."

Mr Maurer called on the international community to simultaneously support returns, but also avoid a situation where refugees live in indefinite legal and economic limbo for years. He recalled the suffering of civilians in Myanmar and Bangladesh that he witnessed on recent trips to both countries.

"In Rakhine we visited areas where villages once stood. Little remains, and the vegetation is rapidly reclaiming the land. In other parts, former schools and health centers stand empty, and the markets are abandoned," Mr Maurer said.

"In Cox's Bazar too, life is extremely difficult, with people living in emergency conditions with many basic needs unmet. They are faced with lives of aid dependency and deep uncertainty about their future."

See full remarks at https://www.icrc.org/en/person/peter-maurer