Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the Security Council meeting on Myanmar, February 28

28.02.2019 - Speech

(check against delivery)

Thank you, Mr. President. Let me start by expressing my gratitude for the Special Envoy’s briefing and her tremendous efforts over the last few months. As I said this morning regarding the new Envoy for Syria, it is incredibly important for the Envoy to have contacts with all the parties involved. I would like to congratulate you for establishing these contacts.

Having your office in the capital of Myanmar, such a reclusive country, and gaining acceptance as a partner is very important. Also, I would like to recognize the positive steps that have been achieved.

Our Kuwaiti colleague reminded us of the trip by the Security Council last year when it saw the conflict firsthand, the suffering of the people and the dire situation in Cox Bazaar. We must admit nearly one year later that we have hardly made any progress. I would also like to echo those who have expressed their gratitude to Bangladesh, a country with many of its own challenges, for hosting so many refugees. This welcome has earned our gratitude. We fear, however, that we will still be sitting here in a year or two discussing refugees in Cox Bazaar.

The situation there is extremely dire. There is the risk that those in these camps will radicalize or adopt extreme ideologies. Under these circumstances, providing a proper education to children is a great challenge. Without an education, however, they will be even more susceptible to radicalization. What kind of generation is growing up there with no jobs? We must do everything in our power to allow these refugees to return. But we must also ensure the right conditions for their return.

There can be no alternative to safe, voluntary and dignified returns to a secure environment. Refugees need to have their legal documents and they must be able to move around freely.

I want to go back to what the Special Envoy underlined as a key activity: bringing together the country’s many different ethnic groups in a sustained intercommunal dialogue. We have to strengthen the mutual understanding between the different ethnic groups. The Rohingya must be accepted as equals by the other ethnic groups. The hatred expressed towards Rohingya by the majority must stop.

I would like to come back to what I said this morning about Syria, and that is accountability. I don’t need to go into the details. Those responsible for terrible crimes such as ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity must be brought to justice, including those in the military responsible for these crimes. We have to go forward with the mechanism. Since women were targeted in these crimes, I support the proposal made by our French colleague to have Pamela Pattem, the Special Envoy, give a special briefing to this Council and explain what is being done to alleviate the burden of these people.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my Indonesian colleague and ASEAN for all they are doing. I think it is wonderful that ASEAN and its neighbors are being so active. I would also like to comment on China as the big neighbor. You said that no pressure should be applied. I would say that you should do everything to encourage the Myanmar government to do the homework that the international community expects from the government. Thank you.

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