02 July 2018

Opening remarks at joint press conference with President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim

António Guterres

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, a very good evening, and thank you very much for your presence.

I have been, in the past, twice in North Rakhine State. So, I was perfectly aware that the Rohingyas’ world can remain one of the most if not the most discriminated community in our planet.

I remember visiting their villages, they couldn’t move from the villages without permission. They couldn’t marry without permission. They were harrassed by the police, by the administration; very limited access to education and to health services; an extremely, extremely discriminated community that’s stateless; that had no nationality. Nationality being rejected by the Government of Myanmar and that had not even a country that could call theirs.  Even if, of course, they live in Myanmar and they felt themselves as Myanmarese citizens.

But knowing that, and knowing that what has happened with the reasons why such a large number of people fled the country was a series of atrocities that have difficult parallels in recent history.

Mass killings, gang rapes, torture, villages razed to the ground, burned. Even knowing all that, it is impossible to go to their to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, the biggest refugee camp in the world, without feeling our heart completely broken. With the testimony of the women, children and men that we meet, when they tell us the story of their tremendous suffering and the horrible discrimination.

And so this is the moment when the international community needs to show the complete solidarity with the Rohingya people and clearly request to Myanmar not only accountability in relation to those that committed crimes, but also the creation of conditions by the construction and by massive investment in reconciliation, by abolishing hate speech and the forms of pointing out against the Rohingyas all the accusations, not without any basis. 

It is the moment for the international community to ask Myanmar to end all these practices and to create the conditions for the Rohingya to be able to go back, to go back in safety and dignity, voluntarily and go back to their places of origin or to the places they choose and to be able to enjoy all the rights that are typical for the citizens of any country in the world.

But at the same time, I think we need to express deep gratitude to Bangladesh, to the people of Bangladesh, to the local communities in Cox’s Bazar, for their extreme generosity.

Bangladesh opened its border in a world where unfortunately many borders are still closed. And Bangladesh has accepted to protect and to assist more than one million Rohingyas at the present moment, being a developing country with many challenges in its own development process. And because of that, it’s the moment to appeal to the international community to express a much stronger solidarity, both with the Rohingya and with Bangladesh that is hosting them.

The response plan to this dramatic humanitarian crisis is now funded only at the level of 26%, which means that we have high levels of malnutrition in the camps, which means that water supply and sanitation are extremely ineffective in relation to the needs. Which means that there is very limited response in education, which means that we are far from the minimum of conditions to allow for the Rohingyas to be in full dignity in their situation of exile.

The international community has the duty to come up with a much stronger support to the Rohingyas and to Bangladesh and my appeal is for mobilization of that solidarity in order to be able to have this operation fully funded by the international community.

But fortunately, the World Bank, thanks to the leadership of its President Jim Kim, has decided, and he will announce to give a very important contribution not only to the Rohingyas, but to the local communities in Bangladesh, creating a completely new situation that I hope will allow for an effective game changer, in the way we are able to address the basic needs of the Rohingyas and of those that so generously are hosting them.

So, I want to say that this visit, that is an expression of solidarity with the Rohingya community and with the people of Bangladesh, is also a visit to express my deep gratitude, and the gratitude of the United Nations for the initiative of the World Bank, and the leadership of the President of the World Bank,
creating the conditions for hopefully, changing in a very meaningful way, the possibilities to provide to most Rohingyas and their hosts, a much more dignifying form of support.

And I was extremely pleased to be able to do this trip together with the President of the World Bank, and to be able to express here our deep gratitude and appreciation.