Cox’s Bazar

02 July 2018

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

António Guterres

Secretary-General António Guterres (2nd right), World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (center), UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem (right) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi interact with Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. UNFPA Bangladesh/Allison Joyce

My appeal to the international community is to step up to the plate and to substantially increase the financial support to all those working in Bangladesh to protect and assist the Rohingya refugees.

It is impossible to visit these camps without breaking our hearts with the suffering of the Rohingya people. 
 
First of all, listening to the terrible stories of massive violence – of killings, of rape, of torture, of house or villages burnt - it is probably one of the most tragic stories in relation to the systematic violation of human rights.
 
I was in North Rakhine State twice in my past capacity as High Commissioner for Refugees, I have no doubt that the Rohingya people have always been one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world, without any recognition of the most basic rights starting by the recognition of the right of citizenship by their own country – Myanmar.
 
But, on the other hand, it is also terrible for us to see more than 900,000 people living in these terrible circumstances. When I see the young boys and girls, I remember my own grand-daughters and I imagine what it would be see my grand-daughters living in these conditions.
 
It is unacceptable that these people who have suffered so much in Myanmar now have to live in the difficult circumstances that these camps inevitably represent. And so, I believe we need to combine a word of deep gratitude to the Government and people of Bangladesh for the fact that they have opened their borders when so many other borders are closed in the world. They have received so generously these people and have provided them with basic protection and support.
 
But it also necessary to say to the international community that the solidarity expressed until now by that international community, has not been translated in sufficient support to the Rohingya people of Myanmar in Bangladesh.
 
The response appeal subscribed by all humanitarian agencies - the UN, Red Cross, Red Crescent, NGOs - a response appeal of almost 1 billion dollars is only funded at 26%. That means that we do not have the capacity to provide the kind of basic education that would be necessary. That means that malnutrition is prevailing in the camp. That means that the conditions of water and sanitation are far from being ideal. That means that when you look at the Monsoon, the possible cyclones, we need to recognize that with all the gigantic efforts that were made by the NGOs, but especially by the refugees themselves, by the UN agencies, by the Government of Bangladesh, by the army of Bangladesh, even with everything that was done we are not out of the woods. We still are very worried with the potential consequences of the Monsoon, if things get more dramatic in relation to the lives of the refugees here.
 
And so, my appeal to the international community is to step up to the plate and to substantially increase the financial support to all those working in Bangladesh to protect and assist the Rohingya refugees.
 
In this situation there is a remarkable example that I want to underline with the expression of my enormous gratitude to Jim Kim and the World Bank. Obviously, we insist on the right of return of this population to Myanmar but only when the conditions are there for them to live in full dignity in their own country. But in between, a lot needs to be done to increase the resilience of the camp and to support the local community. We are not able to do it. I am extremely grateful to Jim Kim that he has mobilized the World Bank and will be able to announce to you an extremely important contribution of the World Bank both to the Rohingya refugees and to the local community in order to allow them not only, to have access assistance that is needed but to build the resilience for the very dramatic challenges that they face.
 
And so, it is with enormous pleasure that I pass the microphone to the President of the World Bank with again the expression of my enormous gratitude and appreciation for this, which has been the most important, commitment of the international community until now in relation to the Rohingya refugees.