*** “Muslim nations had to “pressure the international community…This is not religious, this is human basic rights of our brothers and sisters in the last 50 years”
*** Rohingya refugees brace for monsoon deluge in Bangladesh camps that sprawl near the border with Myanmar. There has been a desperate effort to make ready for the coming cyclone and monsoon season. But the almost 900,000 refugees in these camps remain very vulnerable.
May 7, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — Islamic foreign ministers on Sunday launched a campaign to mobilize international support for action against Myanmar over the Rohingya refugee crisis and expressed regret for not “responding immediately” to the crisis.
The foreign ministers and diplomats of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) set up a campaign committee during two days of talks in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka vowing to assume a “strong” role in dealing with the ongoing Rohingya situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
OIC secretary general Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen called the move a key step toward ending a crisis caused by the recent exodus of about 700,000 Muslim Rohingya from Buddhist-majority Myanmar into camps in Bangladesh– the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee settlement.
“We affirm the commitment of the OIC to continue to act at all international and regional levels in support of the cause of the Rohingya people,” al-Othaimeen said while speaking at the 45th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers in Dhaka.
He said the new committee would “mobilize and coordinate international political support for accountability for human rights violations against the Rohingya community.”
“This is very important. This is one of the concrete steps that has been taken to alleviate the problem for our (Rohingya) brothers and sisters,” he said.
Al-Othaimeen urged the organization’s member states to defend the Rohingya, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to neighboring Bangladesh as a result of what the UN has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by Myanmar’s security forces.
WATCH: Rohingya demand justice as UN delegation visits Bangladesh camps in April
Prior to the two-day OIC summit, a delegation from the OIC visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh.
A military campaign launched in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August last year set off the massive influx of the Muslim minority into Bangladesh where they joined 300,000 refugees already living in squalid camps following previous violence.
Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar according to the UN and NGOs.
Since then, Myanmar security forces have been accused of rape, murder, torture and setting Rohingya homes on fire.
“We will [now] play a strong role along with Bangladesh, the United Nations and the international community,” Hesham Youseff, assistant secretary-general for OIC’s humanitarian affairs division, said on Saturday.
He added that the OIC, which bills itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world”, regretted not “responding immediately” to the situation.
The United Nations and United States have said the crackdown amounted to ethnic cleansing. The Myanmar army has said it only targeted militants.
Al-Othaimeen said Muslim nations had to “pressure the international community”.
“This is not religious, this is human basic rights of our brothers and sisters in the last 50 years,” he said.
The International Criminal Court prosecutor has already called for the tribunal to rule on whether it can investigate the allegations of mass rape and killings.
Bangladesh has put huge diplomatic effort into pressuring Myanmar to take back the refugees in safety.
The two nations signed a repatriation deal in November, but nobody has since returned.
The Rohingya have been persecuted for decades in Myanmar, where they are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denied citizenship.
Last month a UN Security Council delegation visiting the camps called for the safe return of the Rohingya and an end to discrimination against them.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also called for “accountability” when she toured the Rohingya camps this week.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali said the OIC meeting had urged “strong action against the Myanmar government” on the Rohingya crisis