By Mutasim Billah
Addressing the Rohingya crisis, Asian and European foreign ministers Monday called for an immediate end to hostilities, halting of outflow, early and safe return of externally displaced Rohingya from Bangladesh, and implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission recommendations for a sustainable solution.
They made the call at an informal briefing on the Rakhine issue at the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) for the foreign ministers of Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Estonia, Germany, Malta, Russia, Luxemburg, France, Thailand, Hungary, Finland, Sweden and the EU foreign policy chief, according to the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sanstha (BSS) news agency.
On day one of the two-day meeting in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Switzerland, Hungary, Estonia, Finland, and the U.K.
They discussed bilateral matters and exchanged views on the Rohingya crisis, particularly the early return of displaced Rohingya and the need for an inclusive and durable solution to the protracted problem.
Since Aug. 25, over 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.
The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.