People fleeing persecution in Myanmar, poverty in BD: UN official (United News of Bangladesh)

Dhaka, June 16 (UNB) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said people have been fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh, notably via trafficking and smuggling rings.

“For many years, people have been fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh, notably via trafficking and smuggling rings,” he said at the Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights of Migrants at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

He said there are inescapable similarities between the crises in the Mediterranean and in the seas off Southeast Asia.

This exodus became far more visible last month, when a crackdown on illegal trafficking in Thailand led captains and crew to abandon ships that were filled with passengers, Hussein said.

A number of boats were pushed back as they reached the shores of neighbouring countries, and hundreds of people have died at sea.

Besides, mass graves were discovered last month in Thailand and Malaysia, containing the bodies of presumed victims of human trafficking and smuggling gangs. Most of these victims are said to have been Rohingya from Myanmar.

Most of the 1.3 million Rohingya are deprived of citizenship, Hussein said adding that within Rakhine State, their movement is sharply restricted, with immediate impact on their ability to access services, farmland and employment of almost any kind.

“My office has also documented persistent allegations of summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture and sexual violence of Rohinyga people by security officials,” he said.

Hussein said this pattern of persecution must be considered a driver of the Rohingya exodus. “I also fear that it could attract the interest of extremists, as witnessed in recent statements by the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, with potentially disastrous consequences.”

It is, moreover, vital that States address, both singly and together, the economic despair that drives so many to risk death to escape the prison of their poverty, Hussein observed.

“The Sustainable Development Goals constitute a life-saving agenda to drive stronger development. They must be funded and implemented in good faith by all Governments,” said the UN rights body chief.

Full implementation of recommendations by human rights mechanisms, including the UPR, would also ensure less biting inequality and more respect for human rights. Fundamentally, this task is in your hands,” Hussein said.