THE US government opposed yesterday welcoming Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and Myanamar into other countries, including its own.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Migration and Refugees Anne Richard claimed that resettling Rohingya refugees in the United States would encourage others to leave their homeland.
Instead she demanded that Myanmar grant citizenship to its Rohingya Muslim minority.
“The answer to the issue is peace and stability and citizenship for the Rohingyas in Rakhine state, and that is the solution,” Ms Richard said at the end of a three-day visit to Malaysia.
“There is tremendous persecution and oppression of the Rohingyas in Rakhine state. They do not have citizenship and we are concerned about their human rights,” she said.
Malaysia and Indonesia, which initially turned away boats carrying the migrants, recently said they would give temporary shelter to the refugees on condition that they are resettled within a year.
Ms Richard said 18 to 24 months would be a more realistic time frame for the United States to resettle refugees.
But she warned that only a small fraction would be resettled. “Resettlement is not the solution for most refugees on Earth,” she said. “The most important solution is people don’t have to leave their country in the first place.”
The Rohingya, backed by some academics, claim that they are indigenous to Myanmar’s Rakhine state. But the government maintains that they migrated there during British rule, after Burmese and India independence in 1948 and as a consequence of Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971.