Boris Johnson presses Aung San Suu Kyi on Rohingya plight


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Media captionBoris Johnson meets Aung San Suu Kyi for Rohingya talks

Boris Johnson has met Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for talks amid the Rohingya refugee crisis.

The foreign secretary called for the safe return to the country of refugees who have fled following a military crackdown.

Nearly 700,000 people have left since the action began in August 2017.

The BBC’s Reeta Chakrabarti said there were smiles as the pair shook hands, but added: “The plight of the Rohingya people will be a difficult topic.”

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Mr Johnson said: “I spoke to her about my own experience witnessing the terrible conditions of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and my deep concern about their future.

“I underlined the importance of the Burmese authorities carrying out a full and independent investigation into the violence in Rakhine, and to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations.

“I underlined the urgency of creating the conditions in Rakhine that could make it a safe place for the Rohingya refugees to return to, free from fear, and in the knowledge that their basic rights will be respected and upheld.”

‘Nationwide peace’

He said the UK was “already a major donor to the humanitarian crisis” and would continue to use its global influence “to find a way to provide a better future for the Rohingya community”.

“I encouraged her efforts to broker a nationwide peace settlement to put to an end 70 years of conflict in her homeland,” he added.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry announced in a Facebook post alongside photos of the pair meeting that they had “discussed in an open and friendly manner the latest developments in Rakhine State, including planning for the reception of returnees who fled”.

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Media captionMyanmar must find a safe and dignified way for Rohingya Muslims to return, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said.

On Saturday, he met members of the Bangladeshi government and visited camps on the Bangladesh border holding the refugees.

After visiting the Cox’s Bazar camp, home to more than 500,000 refugees, Mr Johnson said the “horrendous living conditions” further strengthened his commitment to finding a solution.

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Boris Johnson visited Cox’s Bazar refugee camp as part of the first official trip to Bangladesh by a foreign secretary in a decade

He said: “It is vital that the Rohingya refugees must be allowed to their homes in Rakhine voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, under international oversight, and when the conditions… are right.”

After meeting Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali, he said: “I was really struck by how Bangladesh and the UK really share a common analysis of what needs to be done. We need to make those points together to the government in Nay Pyi Daw.”

The United Nations has described the exodus of Rohingya people from Rakhine state, and the military offensive which provoked it, as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Two-year plan

Neighbouring Bangladesh has agreed a timeframe with Myanmar for repatriating Rohingya people.

But aid agencies have expressed concern over the projected figures for the transfer – Myanmar has agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week; Bangladesh says it aims to return everyone within two years.

And the refugees are worried about the conditions and their rights upon their return.

Britain is one of the biggest direct donors of aid for the humanitarian effort to help the refugees.

The foreign secretary’s trip to Bangladesh is the first such official visit in a decade.

He will go on to Bangkok, Thailand, for talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.



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